GM making three big bets for future growth

China, Cadillac and connectivity. Call them the three C's that are the pillars to General Motors' plan to become the "most valued" automaker in the world—a title CEO Mary Barra defined as a company that delivers increased shareholder value and obtains a loyal customer base.

Barra outlined the company's long-term business plan for analysts during a presentation at company headquarters in Detroit on Wednesday. Her message was simple but direct.

"It's about growth," she said. "We know we can't become the most valued company if we don't grow."

Although this isn't the first time a GM CEO has delivered this message, Barra said she's confident the company's target can be met.

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"We have the resources," she said. "It's about execution."

International potential

Not surprisingly, the world's biggest market will be a primary driver for GM's future growth.

How?

The company plans to invest $14 billion into the country over the next four years and open another five final assembly plants. Through this investment, GM aims to boost sales by roughly 40 percent over the next five years, going from the approximately 3.5 million vehicles expected to be sold this year, to almost 5 million vehicles by 2018.

Stan Honda | AFP | Getty Images

GM also said Cadillac can become a much stronger competitor in the lucrative luxury auto market. It's the reason the company plans to aggressively push the brand by introducing four new models next year. With Johan de Nysschen, the former head of Infiniti, now running the brand as a separate business unit, GM CFO Dan Ammann said it's primed for greater sales.

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Ammann also said he thinks Cadillac can eventually rival the German brands that lead the luxury market in global sales. Cadillac is currently the only major luxury automaker whose U.S. sales are down year-to-date.

"It is our fundamental belief we will become a major player to that group," Ammann said.

GM's plan for Cadillac also involves pushing the brand in China. The challenge will be catching up with Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi, which are also aggressively focused on the country.

Connectivity the key

Barra said the key to holding onto current GM customers and winning buyers over from other brands is investing heavily in technology. GM has been pushing the idea of connectivity through services such as OnStar, and more recently putting 4G LTE capabilities in new models.

Ammann said these features—which are becoming increasingly more important to drivers—are just the start.

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His statement follows a recent study by McKinsey, which found that 80 percent of U.S. car buyers consider connectivity either "important" or "very important."

Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com.