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CES 2016: GM’s Barra Touts Mainstream Appeal In Keynote

For her first CES Keynote, General Motors chairman/CEO Mary Barra shared the Westgate Theater stage Wednesday with a new Chevrolet Bolt EV, a car that “delivers on [GM’s] promise of low price, high range and an unparalleled level of connectivity. It amounts to an upgradable platform for new technologies.”

The Bolt EV, unlike many of the concept vehicles shown by GM’s competitors here, is a finished product ready for production this year. It will retail for about $30,000 and gets about 200 miles on a single charge.

It also boasts a host of connectivity features including a navigation system that prioritizes battery range and access to electric charging stations; Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity; and a My Chevrolet App that allows owners to check charging levels, schedule service visits and remotely start the car.

Barra’s keynote – clocking in at a brisk 25 minutes — was livestreamed using the recently launched Facebook Live app. “Embracing new technology and societal needs is the core of the Chevrolet brand. You saw that on Monday when we announced a strategic alliance with Lyft to create a network of on-demand autonomous vehicles,” Barra said. “It’s also why we meet frequently with the senior leaders at Facebook and why we are so excited to be the first automaker to use Facebook Live.”

Barra was referring to the $500 million investment in the ride-sharing company Lyft. The Chevy Bolt was engineered with ride-sharing in mind, the company said, adding features such as a rear-view screen and easier entering and exiting of the vehicle.

She added that GM’s goal is to have 12 million connected vehicles on the road this year.

“I have no doubt that the auto industry will change more in the next five to 10 years than it has in the past 50,” Barra said. “The convergence of connectivity, vehicle electrification and evolving customer needs demand new solutions.”