‘Second Chance’

Rick Wagoner, chief executive officer at GM when the automaker sought government help, lost his job as part of Obama’s auto task force work. His successor Fritz Henderson didn’t last a year as CEO. He was followed by Ed Whitacre, former CEO of AT&T Inc., who was placed on the board as chairman by the government coming out of bankruptcy. He prepared the company for a 2010 initial public offering, then left before the IPO roadshow.

Dan Akerson, also added to GM’s board in the bankruptcy, became GM’s fourth CEO in less than two years in late 2010 and has overseen efforts to complete the automaker’s reorganization.

“We will always be grateful for the second chance extended to us and we are doing our best to make the most of it,” Akerson said yesterday in a statement. “Today is not dramatically different from the hundreds of preceding days during which we have worked to make GM a company our country can be proud of again.”

He’s replaced several senior executives, including naming Mary Barra the first female head of GM’s product development operations. He’s set several aggressive mid-decade goals, including boosting North America operating margins, stemming Europe losses and increasing China sales.

New Optimism

Akerson has emphasized strengthening GM’s Chevrolet and Cadillac brands globally while also announcing plans to pull Chevy mostly out of Europe and shut the first assembly plant in Germany since World War II.

GM’s new product has brought new optimism to the company, which has reported 15 straight profitable quarters and has increased U.S. sales faster than the total market has grown.

“There have been tens of thousands of people that can now put food on the table,” Reuss said of GM recovery. “There are plants that operate at 110 percent of capacity and there are all of the good things that happen in those towns where those plants are, and the supply bases. There are restaurants again, there’s all of the service business operating again. How do you put numbers on that? I feel good about that.”

GOP Critics