General Motors showed Monday how the automotive world is making the slow and painful transition toward electric vehicles and SUVs (while jettisoning sedans) and, eventually, autonomous vehicles. Despite generating $6 billion in profit in the first three quarters of the year, GM said it would cut 10,000 workers, including 15% of its salaried workforce in North America, and possibly shut down five factories by the end of this year in order to add $6 billion in annual cash flow by 2020. GM’s stock price rose nearly 5% but that was still not enough to catch Tesla, which is the most valuable U.S. auto company in terms of market capitalization. (Quartz translated GM’s euphemistic press release to plain English here.)
The company meanwhile has boosted hiring at its Cruise autonomous vehicle development unit, though it could take many years for the company to develop a money-making robotaxi service. In the meantime, CEO Mary Barra said the focus would be on fully electric cars rather than hybrids. GM said it would cut sedans like the Buick LaCrosse, Chevy Impala and Cadillac CT6 as well as the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid in response to slowing demand for passenger cars.