GM’s Barra says self-driving car to go on sale in 2023

General Motors CEO Mary Barra recently turned to the past to define the present.

Barra crafted the company’s statement of purpose, which GM introduced to all employees in January.

When composing the statement, Barra said she struggled at first to find the right words, only to find inspiration from GM’s 100-year-old articles of incorporation. 

GM Chair and CEO Mary Barra on Axios' What's Next Summit April 5, 2022.

Barra, who spoke on Axios’ What’s Next Summit on Tuesday, also touched on when GM will start selling personal self-driving cars. Cruise, of which GM is a majority owner, is currently testing self-driving cars for a taxi-like fleet in San Francisco.

Finding GM’s purpose

Every company needs to understand why they exist, Barra said.

“Our purpose at General Motors is to pioneer the innovations that move and connect people to what matters,” she said.

Barra said she hopes that statement will guide employees’ decision making every day and that it will attract new talent who want to work for a company that is doing something of value to society.

General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra meets with plant employees at the GM Fort Wayne Assembly plant on Thursday, May 30, 2019, before announcing the company is investing $24 million in the plant to expand production of full size Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 pickups in Roanoke, Indiana.

But Barra admitted while she was working on writing the purpose, she got stuck. 

“It’s hard to pick the words and you want it to be something everyone can remember to help guide them every day,” Barra said. “And we were kind of stuck.”

So she went to another CEO — someone she did not name but for whom she has “tremendous respect” — and “he said, ‘look into your past.’