RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
The CEO of General Motors yesterday made an appearance at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. He not only showed up; he gave the keynote speech - the first auto chief to do so at a show known for home and office gadgets.
NPR's Laura Sydell has more.
LAURA SYDELL: Big cars with booming stereo speakers filled thousands of square feet at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Inside these cars are systems that allow drivers to take advantage of 3D GPS navigation, cellular phone systems, and bring a broadband Internet connection into the car. So it makes sense that for the first time in 41 years the CEO of a major car company gave a keynote.
Unidentified Man: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner.
SYDELL: Richard Wagoner of General Motors arrived on stage in a Chevy Volt, a not-yet-released hybrid-type vehicle that can run on electricity.
Also on display here is a GM prototype car that pretty much relieves drivers of driving.
Mr. RICHARD WAGONER (General Motors CEO): Autonomous driving means that someday you could do your e-mail, eat breakfast, apply your make-up, read the newspaper, and watch a video all while commuting to work.
SYDELL: In other words, says Wagoner, you can do what you already do in the car, but do it without risking an accident. But Wagoner's promises don't always deliver.
GM's stock dropped this week because the company's engineers are scrambling to figure out how to run a whole range of vehicle features, from satellite radio to air conditioning, in order to get the Volt out as promised in 2010.
Laura Sydell, NPR News, Las Vegas.
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