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GM's new models overshadowed at NY Auto Show

Walk around the New York Auto Show's main floor at the Javits Center during press days and there's no shortage of auto executives, journalists and industry consultants milling around.

But stroll down to the North Hall, where General Motors is displaying the new Z06 Corvette convertible and the Chevrolet Trax SUV, and it's a far different story. The area is a virtual ghost town filled with a few GM staff members, talking with a few reporters who made their way into the space.

Welcome to the world of General Motors in spring 2014, where the unveiling of the automaker's new models has been overshadowed by the ignition switch recall crisis.

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Try as she does, GM CEO Mary Barra has been unable to shift the spotlight away from the scandal and mounting questions tied to four investigations into how the automaker made decisions about faulty ignition switches in more than 1.6 million vehicles.

Even she admits, the main focus right now is the recall investigation.

Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, talks in front of the Chevrolet Trax at the New York International Auto Show, Tuesday, April 15, 2014 in New York.
Mark Lennihan | AP
Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, talks in front of the Chevrolet Trax at the New York International Auto Show, Tuesday, April 15, 2014 in New York.

"But in the mean time we are going to keep the momentum," Barra said. "We are going to keep the acceleration around the globe of what we are doing. Great products, strong business results; and we've got the team to do it."

Outside of the auto show, sales over the last month have shown some resilience in spite of the recall crisis.

"Traffic has been good," said Mark Reuss, the head of product development for General Motors. "This hasn't been easy, but we're staying focused."

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Last month, GM sales were up 4.3 percent, not far off of the industry sales pace of up 5.7 percent.

Dealers say their loyal, repeat GM buyers are looking at the current wave of Chevy, Buick, GMC and Cadillac models, and are seeing vehicles that are far different than the Chevy Cobalts and Saturn Ions at the heart of the recall investigation.

The new Corvette Z06 convertible, on display at the show, is another example of a new GM vehicle that has a sharper look and better performance than the cost-focused economy models built from 2003 to 2007.

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Still, it remains to be seen how many will pay attention to the new Corvette at the auto show when it opens to the public on Friday.

Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com.

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