General Motors cautious about the year as new team takes reins

 
City A.M. Reporter
GENERAL Motors’ new executive team expects a slight uptick in pre-tax profits this year, but said margins likely would remain flat until 2015.

A new management team led by chief executive Mary Barra and president Dan Ammann took the reins yesterday, issuing a cautious outlook for the coming year ahead of a Deutsche Bank auto analyst conference.

GM continues to cut its losses while boosting revenue in Europe, executives said, but the company expects growth this year in the United States and China to help fund about $1.1bn in restructuring costs.

China remains GM’s strongest market. The carmaker plans to open four additional plants there through 2015, increasing annual production capacity to 5m vehicles, keeping in neck and neck with chief rival Volkswagen.

In comparison, GM last year built 3.3m vehicles in North America.

GM plans to launch 17 new or upgraded models this year with its joint-venture partners in China, as well as 15 new or upgraded vehicles in the US

Ammann described 2014 as a “transition year” in Europe,nwhere GM’s Opel subsidiary will introduce a redesigned Corsa late in the year. A redesigned Astra compact is expected to follow in early 2015, along with a redesigned Insignia midsize sedan in late 2015.

The company announced its first dividend since 2008 on Tuesday, giving investors a boost following the US government’s sale of the last of its post-bailout shareholding.