GM plans to invest $5 billion in electric cars, SUVs — and a compact.

“It’s not simply a technology call,” says GM CEO Mary Barra. “It’s about changing the global economy and changing the driver’s license. It’s about leading in the next big thing.”

The vehicle, debuting at the Geneva Auto Show on Friday, would be manufactured in Miraflores, Mexico, and roll off the line early next year. “We didn’t get to where we are today because we have a large-scale factory somewhere,” she tells Diane Brady. But that hasn’t stopped Barra and others from saying that they have no intention of closing that facility, despite the fact that it is running at only 20 percent of its capacity.

The Bolt, which is assembled in southern Michigan, accounts for one-third of GM’s total vehicle sales, and the plans for the Bolt make good on the CEO’s promise that GM would invest more in electric and autonomous vehicles. And it includes a battery-powered version of the tiny Chevrolet Sonic, which it hopes will be a tiny car marketed specifically at millennials. “We believe strongly that electrification is going to be a very important part of that product mix,” Barra says.

Barra was the driving force behind efforts to make GM leaner and more productive. She helped create GM’s industrial-theft prevention unit. Now she’s asking her companies to cut costs by $5 billion through a process she calls “honest.” Barra admits that, for the time being, “we will continue to see weakness in the business” and that she has no idea how quickly that $5 billion cut will materialize.

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