GM Expects New Cars to Drive a ‘Renaissance’
"It all starts and ends with product," the GM executive said. "Over the next 12 to 18 months, 70 percent of our products in this country — our various brands and models — will either be refreshed or brand new."
After having seen its market share slide in North America to 17.9 percent, its lowest level since at least the 1930s, Akerson said there's little risk of market share continuing to fall.
GM is producing higher quality cars, Akerson said, with Consumer Reports now recommending 16 of its models, up from 11 last year. "Those are good stakes, if you will, in the ground that we can kind of anchor ourselves to," he said.
With more reliable and attractive cars, GM's average transaction price is the highest in the industry in the United States, Akerson noted. Retention is also growing.
"So I'm optimistic with this new product onslaught, if you will, it will be a renaissance for us in the next couple of years," he told CNBC.
But Steven Rattner, the former Treasury auto advisor, told CNBC it remains to be seen whether these cars and trucks actually sell. "We're going to find out over the next six months to a year whether these new cars and trucks really do become game changers for the company," he said.
General Motors sees growth opportunities abroad as well. "In China, we grew market share last year, and I'm quite confident that we'll continue to grow in China," he said.
GM also returned to profitability in Latin America in 2012 after it introduced a new Chevy Onyx, which it expects will make up a quarter of its volume over the next two years.
GM is expecting margins to expand over the next couple of years, but hasn't gone as far to predict a doubling in profitability by 2014, which some on Wall Street are predicting.