GM names 1st woman CEO Mary Barra

DETROIT – Mary Barra has spent the past three years as General Motors’ product chief, making cars that drive better, last longer and look good in showrooms. Now she will take on an even bigger job. On Tuesday, the board named the 33-year company veteran CEO, making her the first woman to lead a U.S. car company.

Barra replaces Dan Akerson, who moved up retirement plans by several months to help his wife, Karin, battle advanced cancer.

When Barra starts her new job Jan. 15, she will lead a company that’s made nearly $20 billion since emerging from bankruptcy in 2010, much of it from the cars and trucks she helped develop. But she still faces challenges of paring down GM’s costs and winning over buyers in international markets such as India and South America.

Akerson, 65, said he had planned to stay at least until spring, but his wife’s diagnosis changed that.