GM Chairman wants to see models on sale ahead of schedule

Ed Whitacre, Chairman of the GM board, thinks getting new cars to market will help save market share

Ed Whitacre, Chairman of the GM board, thinks getting new cars to market will help save market share

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In a market where only about 10 million cars are expected to be sold annually - down from 16 million last year - every tenth of a percent of market share counts. That's why Board of Directors Chairman Ed Whitacre sees a strong need to act quickly to prevent further market share erosion.

Despite the boost of the CARS 'cash for clunkers' scheme, GM saw its share of the marketplace drop from 20.5% to 18.9% in July, according to the Detroit News. To help turn that trend around, Whitacre is pushing to get every upcoming new model out to the public as early as possible, though exactly which models will get the treatment isn't being disclosed.

Likely candidates include the Chevrolet Cruze small sedan and its up-market Buick platform mate, the fuel-efficient and compact Chevrolet Orlando crossover and, of course, the Chevrolet Volt. With several years of development and the recent focus on moving forward with the Volt during bankruptcy, GM's extended-range EV could be just what is needed to clean up the company's image - even if availability would be limited by the underlying technology at first.

The Cruze, previously delayed during GM's financial difficulties, could be a prime candidate for moving back up to its initial schedule. Offering a competitive, attractive entry-level sedan could be important with Ford's Focus getting updates soon.

Even more important could be the Buick version of the Cruze, which would go head-to-head with the smaller entry-luxury models like the BMW 1-series, Lexus HS250h. A hybrid Orlando could take the fight to the mid-market crossover sector with its dashing new style, 7-passenger seating and impressive fuel economy - expected to top 40mpg in conventional form. Since the Orlando also shares underpinnings with the Cruze sedan, bringing the platform to market makes a lot of sense.

Only time will tell if GM has what it takes to turn its image around now that it has its financial house in order, but if the past few years of products are any indication, it certainly has the goods to build on - now it just needs to make the perception match the reality.
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