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GM CEO On 2013: “The Sun Will Be On Our Backs.”

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(GM Photo: Steve Fecht)

(GM Photo: Steve Fecht)

jeffgilbert Jeff Gilbert
Automotive reporter for WWJ Newsradio 950 and CBS Radio News....
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DETROIT (WWJ) - GM CEO Dan Akerson says he expects his company to pick up some market share in the coming year, and regain its investment grade status.

“I think 13 and 14 the Sun will be on our backs,” said Akerson, in a Wednesday morning roundtable with reporters. “These will be good years, not only domestically, but on an international basis.”

The one exception would be Europe, where Akerson says selective cost cutting will help General Motors cuts its losses by one-third to one half. But, he doesn’t expect Europe to reach break even status until 2016.

GM has posted eleven consecutive quarterly products, the longest streak for the company in more than a decade. Akerson expects that streak to continue when General Motors unveils its fourth quarter 2012 earnings in late January or early February.

“I think it’s been a little bit unrecognized what we’ve been able to do in the last twelve months.”


Interview: GM CEO Dan Akerson talks with reporters.

General Motors current product portfolio is among the oldest in the industry. However, General Motors is about to begin a two-year long product offensive. Akerson says that will be evident at the upcoming North American International Auto Show, where the company has new pickups, a new Cadillac ELR electric car, and the much awaited seventh generation of the Chevy Corvette.

“What you’ll see is a GM that’s projecting with some confidence and some vigor,” said Akerson.

While General Motors has added new jobs, and new shifts at a number of plants, Akerson said the company is at least two years away from needing to build new factories.

GM factories are currently working at what the industry considers 100 percent capacity, which means two shifts. That, Akerson says, means GM has opportunities to add third shifts at a number of facilities, before they need to think about new construction.

The U.S. Treasury Department plans to sell off its shares in General Motors starting this year, with a goal of being totally out of the company by early 2014.

“I think it’s important for this chapter to close on this part of our history,” said Akerson.

The exit, Akerson says, will eliminate a major distraction for GM workers, and assure investors of the company’s future. He said he was concerned that his company would become a “political football” during the 2012 election campaign. But, the discussion of aid to the auto industry, Akerson says, turned out to be a positive development.

“Our own survey’s show that the perception of the company improved,” he said. “I wouldn’t have thought that at this time last year.”

Akerson praised Ford for the way they’ve handled their management succession plans. At 64 years old, he said he wasn’t sure how long he wanted to continue as GM CEO. But, he said that GM has a strong management team, and the board of directors continually discusses succession plans.

But, Akerson says, he does expect to still be running General Motors a year from now.

“God willing and the board willing.”

Connect with Jeff Gilbert
Email: jdgilbert@cbs.com
Facebook: Facebook.com/carchronicles
Twitter: @jefferygilbert

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