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GM North America President: “Dealers Are a Competitive Advantage”



General Motors Executive Marissa West values the unique approach that each franchise dealer brings to their business, market and customers. 

“I became a hard fast believer that dealers are a competitive advantage,” said West, the newly appointed president of General Motors North America at the 2024 Automotive Forum New York. “I think everything starts with the product, but this is a people business. Customers are coming from all walks of life from all different levels of awareness.”

West spent the first 18 years of her GM career in engineering roles but has quickly learned the importance of the retail network in her position as president of GM Canada and now 3 months into her new role leading North America. The dealers are the ones who develop the relationships with customers and take care of them throughout their ownership experience. 

The development of digital retailing aids dealers in giving the customer the experience that they want, whether that is online, in-person or – more likely – a combination of the two. 

“I believe that there's a whole spectrum of customers,” West said. “I believe that there are customers that have the level of comfort to do everything online. And then there's customers who recognize this is a very significant purchase, and there's a lot of variables that go into the purchase.”

Similarly, customers’ interest for electric vehicles is wide-ranging, and West said that GM is committed to allowing customer demand to dictate inventory volumes. 

“Our dealers are our partners in that, so we're listening to their feedback,” she said. “Dealers will routinely tell us that they want what the customers want.” 

West acknowledged the concern of many in the automotive industry: lacking charging infrastructure. Until consumers don’t have to think about where and how they will charge, infrastructure will affect their purchasing decisions.