GM chief executive Dan Akerson has created a small team to study Tesla Motors, which he thinks has the potential to become a disruptive force to the automotive industry. During an interview with Bloomberg last week, GM vice chairman Steve Girsky said that Akerson has tasked the team to study how Tesla could threaten the GM business.
Girsky said Akerson thinks Tesla could be “a big disrupter” if GM is not careful. He noted that history is filled with large companies that ignored innovation “that was coming their way” since they didn’t know where they could be disrupted. The move is part of Akerson’s bid to change GM’s culture as he tries to make the carmaker the most profitable auto manufacturer in the world.
Akerson has already redirected research and development spending and has started focusing on commercial applications. He also started making investments in startup companies that are developing cutting-edge technology.
Akerson noted during a company forum to celebrate innovation at GM that while the carmaker had people with 20 and 30 patents, none were commercialized and none were also present in their vehicles. Akerson joined GM as member of its board as part of its 2009 bankruptcy and $50 billion bailout. He replaced Ed Whitacre as GM CEO is 2010, before the carmaker launched its initial public offering.