The Most Creative People in business 2017
Pamela Fletcher oversaw the development of the breakthrough Chevrolet Bolt EV, a $37,500 all-electric hatchback that can go 238 miles on a single charge—the first electric car to achieve that kind of range at such a low price point. Fletcher explains her approach to building the well-reviewed vehicle, which is rolling out nationally in 2017.
How much pressure did you feel to get the Bolt to market before Tesla released its competing Model 3? "We wanted to be fast, and we wanted to be first. With all the products we’ve done, we’re highly motivated—and I’m personally motivated—to make technology available to as many people as possible."
Was there a key development step? "All of our experience has built to let us deliver a car like the Bolt. A decade ago, we started developing the control system—all of the software that it takes to run these kinds of vehicles. When we went into production with Chevy Volt [a plug-in hybrid that debuted with the 2011 model year], we had no idea how people would use the car, so we built this 85,000-square-foot battery lab and created all kinds of user profiles and environmental conditions. That’s how we predict the future. When it came to developing the Bolt quickly, we already had all of this [research] under our belts."
What’s your approach to leading your team? "We operate like a little startup within GM. I love to spend time with people on, Okay, how do we make something better? What are the obstacles? Do we have a big enough vision for what “better” is? How do we get it there? The other side of my world is looking to the future: What’s our portfolio of technologies and products, and what do we think the customer-facing wins are going to be, and how fast do we think we can deliver them? When you look at our industry, the revolution that’s going on is mind-blowing. I just can’t imagine a more exciting place to be."