GM CEO Dan Akerson sees Tesla as a tough competitor with a disruptive force in the auto segment and he does not plan to be caught off guard.
Akerson has created a small team to analyze Tesla’s evolution and how the automaker might threaten GM’s 104-year-old business in the automotive industry, according to Steve Girsky, GM vice chairman.
“He thinks Tesla could be a big disrupter if we’re not careful,” Girsky said. “History is littered with big companies that ignored innovation that was coming their way because you didn’t know where you could be disrupted.”
This move is part of Akerson’s strategy to change the US automaker’s image linked with the 2009 bankruptcy reorganization and make GM the most profitable automaker in the world. Akerson has been speeding up development and research, focused on commercial applications, invested money in startup companies that develop cutting edge technology and quickened implementation.
The Chevrolet Volt has made GM a leader in the plug-in EV segment and now the automaker is developing the next-generation version which is to hit the market sometime in 2015 and 2016. Akerson also said that engineers are trying to find solutions to cut as much as $10,000 from the Volt’s price, which begins at $39,145. During the first quarter Tesla’s Model S surpassed the Volt, although its base price begins at $69,900.
Akerson’s “view of the world is this kind of thing can change, can impact our organization. It may not be in his lifetime here, but it will be in somebody’s lifetime. And we need to be prepared,” said Steve Girsky, GM vice chairman.