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NINETY EIGHT REGENCY

GM Could Be Profitable This Year, CEO Says GM's Ed Whitacre says the automaker could turn a profit in 2010, and expects to pay back the government

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GM Could Be Profitable This Year, CEO Says

GM's Ed Whitacre says the automaker could turn a profit in 2010, and expects to pay back the government's $50 billion in loans by June.

By Greg Migliore of AutoWeek

General Motors Co. could be profitable later in 2010 if it can continue sales momentum and economic conditions even out, CEO Ed Whitacre said on Wednesday.

"Certainly we're aimed at profitability as quickly as we can get there," he said.

Whitacre, in one of his first meetings with the media after taking over as the automaker's top executive, said GM is making progress in its early months out of bankruptcy and expects to repay its $50 billion in government loans in June.

His wide-ranging remarks touched on several topics, including GM's product line. Whitacre said the company needs to strengthen its sales in the small-car and luxury segments and mentioned the Buick brand in particular.

"There is an opportunity in small cars, and there is an opportunity in the luxury segment," he said.

The Chevrolet Volt also could take an early bow — ahead of its expected November launch, the GM honcho said.

"We're going to put out some early and drive 'em," he said, though he didn't elaborate.

Saab's future continues to be uncertain, Whitacre said, and he's "not confident" a deal can be made to save the brand.

"You know it's real easy — just show up with the money and you can have it," he said. "But no one's showed up with the money."

In other topics:

Whitcare said Chris Liddell, the newly hired CFO from Microsoft, could be a candidate for the CEO job, depending on the "board and his performance."

On the search for a CEO: "That status is they're [an outside search firm] still searching . . . I guess they're beating the bushes."

The Detroit Auto Show will be important to polish the image of the new GM, Whitacre said, but he admitted this year would be his first show.

On vice chairman Bob Lutz: "He's been a great deal of help with the company."

Whitacre, who owns a Cadillac CTS-V, is making his way through the GM product line and has driven a GMC Terrain, a Chevrolet Equinox, a Buick LaCrosse, the Volt and other vehicles.

link:

http://editorial.autos.msn.com/article.aspx?cp-documentid=1123497&icid=autos_1291&GT1=22017

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