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GM CEO Mary Barra On 'Tragic Year' For Detroit Automaker

Jayson Derrick

This year is a "tragic" one for General Motors Company (NYSE: GM), but the company is days away from resuming some operations at the levels seen prior to the coronavirus, CEO Mary Barra said Wednesday on CNBC's "Squawk Box."

Barra On GM's Production Rebound: General Motors' difficult 2020 started with the COVID-19 pandemic first impacting its operations in China, and then the virus"moved through the entire world," Barra said.

The company is doing all it can to keep its workers safe, and protecting lives has priority over protecting livelihoods, she said. 

Despite months of difficulties and challenges, General Motors said during its virtual shareholders meeting this week that it expects to return to pre-coronavirus production levels by the end of June, the CEO said. 

The Detroit company already has "well over" 90% of its workers back on assembly lines in North America and is on track for a complete return, Barra said.

The same can be said for key international markets like South Korea and China, but South America is "at a different point" and only now starting to come back online, she said. 

The company is on a "good path" to bolster its global supply chain, as South America lags other regions, the CEO said. 

"We will continue to work through any challenges we have, but I think that we can successfully work through those as we progress through the end of the month and then continue on into the third quarter."

Barra On Consumer Demand: Demand for car ownership is a mixed bag moving forward, Barra said, as some would-be buyers are going through a period of economic difficulty.

On the other hand, many people who never owned a car may now want one to avoid public transportation, she said. 

So far, GM is "pleasantly surprised" with demand, especially from the new online "Shop, Click, & Drive" initiative, Barra said.

Most dealerships have developed a clean and contactless delivery method that gives consumers added confidence, the CEO said. 

While it is "too early" to jump to any conclusions related to demand, GM remains "cautiously optimistic," she said. 

GM Price Action: GM shares were down 1.58% at $27.34 at the time of publication Wednesday.

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Benzinga file photo by Dustin Blitchok. 

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