It's been a long time since General Motors found itself staggering from the recession in late 2008, becoming the recipient of government bailout money in an effort to save jobs and U.S. corporations. With the dawn of 2014 just ahead of us, here are five reasons we think GM is finally back on track.
1. Government Motors No More
The U.S. government sold its remaining shares in GM at the beginning of December, ending its four-year relationship with the car company. According to Automotive News, the government lost just more than $10 billion in the deal that President Obama said saved more than 1 million jobs and prevented the recession from being much worse than it was. Some GM representatives predict that the end of this partnership will bring many customers back to the automotive brand.
2. A New Corvette and Silverado 1500
Any time a big company wants to remake one of its icons, it's a huge risk. But remake two key products in one year and the risks are compounded — unless they're both home runs. It seems the automotive press has embraced both new products from GM — the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray and the Chevy Silverado 1500 — for their style and substantial performance content. In fact, the Detroit Free Press named them the Car and Truck of the Year, and both are strong sellers so far.
3. Mary Barra, GM CEO
By naming Mary Barra the next CEO of GM, outgoing CEO Dan Akerson is likely to end up looking like a genius. Not only does Barra have a ton of experience in just about every corner of the business, but also she has a solid engineering background that could come in handy when dealing with a strong accounting department. But this certainly won't be easy for her. Some think she's being set up to fail, especially since GM is not giving her the chairman of the board position along with the CEO title — that position went to the former Cummins CEO Theodore Solso. Still, her extensive background and — being the first woman in the driver's seat for the Detroit Three — should give her a long honeymoon period.
4. The 2015 HDs
We first saw the new heavy-duty pickups from GM at the 2013 State Fair of Texas — the 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 2500/3500 and GMC Sierra 2500/3500 — during their world debut. Although not the kind of thorough redesign we saw when the Silverado 1500s debuted, it looks to be a good jump in design for the trucks. With much of the structural changes coming in 2011 when the big haulers got a new foundation, suspension design and powertrain upgrades, this go-around is all about fine-tuning the interior, improving the electricals and making the bed more functional for truck owners. How these new trucks compete with a new Ford Super Duty and Ram HD remains to be seen, but we'll find out.
5. The 2015 Chevy Colorado
We have to give GM credit here. At a time when it would have been easy to pull back and wait to see how the midsize truck segment will shape up, GM dived right in with two small pickups to shake up the category. We believe the eventual result will be that the new Colorado and Canyon will reinvigorate the segment and motivate other auto makers to offer their own new midsize players. Price and capability will be key factors here, probably to a higher degree than anywhere else in the industry. There were probably hundreds of points along the way where GM could have chosen a more conservative approach, but we're glad it didn't. We predict this will come back to the company in the form of substantial profits.