Business, Economics and Jobs

Mary Barra named General Motors CEO


A Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric vehicle sits at a 2009 event in Michigan where General Motors announced it would invest $43 million to manufacture lithium-ion battery packs for electric vehicles.


Bill Pugliano

General Motors named Mary Barra its new CEO on Tuesday, making her the first female head in the US auto industry.

Barra, 51, was promoted from inside the company, where she had been senior vice-president for global product development.

She replaces Daniel Akerson, 65, who is also currently chairman of GM, and will leave both positions in mid-January.

Akerson is retiring several months earlier than planned because his wife was recently diagnosed with an advanced stage of cancer.

In her prior position, Barra was in charge of the design, engineering and quality of all GM vehicles around the world. She also oversaw purchasing and previously headed the company's human resources operations.

Barra started with GM as an engineering co-op student in 1980.

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The announcement of Barra's promotion came just a day after the US Treasury Department said it sold its final financial stake in GM, putting an end to its 2009 taxpayer bailout of the auto industry.

GM shares are up more than 40 percent this year. The company has earned almost $20 billion in net income since 2010, when it returned to profitability after getting out of bankruptcy.

In addition to Barra's new appointment, the board of directors also on Tuesday named Theodore "Tim" Solso to succeed Akerson as chairman.

Akerson became CEO in September 2010. Barra will be GM's fifth CEO in less than five years.