Mary Barra, the first woman to head US car major General Motors, on Thursday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, joining the league of global CEOs such as Mitsubishi Corp’s Ken Kobayashi, Japanese retailer Uniqlo’s Tadashi Yanai and Indian-born Deutsche Bank co-CEO Anshu Jain who have met the PM in recent months.
Honda Motor Corp chairman Fumihiko Ike also called upon Modi on Friday.
Barra took over the reins of the world’s second largest car maker in January, and has been under attack on account of a spate of global recalls by the company in the last few years.
In India, where GM is a fringe player now, it faced heat last year after recalling 114,000 units of its multi-utility vehicle Tavera for faulty emissions.
A government appointed panel later called it a corporate fraud, indicting the GM top management for fudging engine specifications to pass mandatory emission tests.
“Our goal is to improve our processes so we make defect-free vehicles,” Barra said on Thurs­day.
“We want to be a highly respectable and valued firm. There is a huge focus on quality now. The past is in the past. We have been here a long time but we don’t want to be a mere competitor, we want to be leaders.”
Despite two decades of presence and an investment that tops $1 billion, less than half of GM’s production capacity is utilised at present. Its last three launches — Chevrolet Sail-UVA, Sail sedan and Enjoy utilty vehicle — have all flopped. They were part of an experiment where GM India used platforms from the company’s China partner, SAIC.
“We have a significant partnership still with SAIC in China. In a couple of cases, we did not have the right focus on understanding the customer,” said Barra.