GM CEO sees U.S. auto demand strong for next 4-5 years

Thu Apr 4, 2013 8:42am EDT

Dan Akerson (C), Chairman and CEO of General Motors, attends the press conference for the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan January 14, 2013. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

Dan Akerson (C), Chairman and CEO of General Motors, attends the press conference for the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan January 14, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Rebecca Cook

(Reuters) - General Motors Co (GM.N) Chief Executive Dan Akerson said on Thursday the U.S. auto industry will see strong demand for the next four or five years as more drivers continue to replace their aging vehicles.

U.S. industry executives have repeatedly said pent-up demand is helping to drive sales as customers are forced to replace cars and trucks whose average age tops an all-time high of 11 years.

"There's this underlying strength that may go for the next four or five years until we get it back to eight, nine (year) range of average age of the car ..." in the United States, Akerson said on the CNBC cable news channel.

He also said GM is closely watching the tensions between North Korea and South Korea and making contingency plans for employee safety there. The No. 1 U.S. automaker has five plants in South Korea and exports thousands of cars to other markets from there.

North Korea has stepped up pressure on its neighbor as it barred access by South Korean workers to a joint industrial complex in North Korea.

North Korea also said this week it would restart a nuclear reactor it uses to produce plutonium for its nuclear weapons program.

"Anything that goes on in Korea is critically important to our global production," he said.

Akerson said it would be difficult to shift production from South Korea. In answer to a question, Akerson said it was fair to say continued escalation of tensions in that region would cause GM to look at moving production elsewhere long term.

"You've got to start to think about where you have the continuity of supply and safety of your assets and your employees," he said. "It's a concern to everybody."

(Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

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Comments (3)
Hey GM, you would have plenty of demand if you made a decent car at a decent price. But NO, you have to put a bunch of junk crappy electronics in your cars. OnStar is a JOKE (aka. Big Brother in the car). Cut out all of the expensive junk in the car and you will sell them every time. Simple is SO much better. Not to mention, bring back the Pontiac line. My 3.8 Liter V-6 engine is still getting over 30 mpg, and lots of power. Transmission works great. Where are these great cars without repairs?

Apr 04, 2013 9:08am EDT  --  Report as abuse
TheseusRex wrote:
Unfortunately, the buyers are more and more recipients of “sub-prime” loans. An outfit in Dallas loans via applications from the auto dealers and the money is QE dollars filtered through Capital One and/or Wells Fargo. When these sub-primers begin to miss payments, look for the bursting of one more huge bubble. There will be millions of slightly used, abused and refused used cars out there; which will be another market mess up thanks to one more government program created by dummies. (By the way, banks are packaging these loans in derivatives that will be as toxic as Dai Ichi or Three Mile Island)

Apr 04, 2013 10:15am EDT  --  Report as abuse
brotherkenny4 wrote:
Does Mr Ackerman’s analysis include the possibility of gasoline at $5 or $6 a gallon. They certainly didn’t expect the spike at $4 which caused them to fail. When all you make is a bunch of gas guzzlers it gets pretty rough when the moron consumer can’t afford the gas. Sure, they make the Volt, but they have that priced for failure. They have no intention of truly pursuing any vehicle with high mileage. Big fat ugly piles of junk make them more money so they can afford the army of “yes men” morons that they consider their “think tank”. It’s the new American business model so get used to bailing out the creepy loser businesses that are too big to fail america.

Apr 05, 2013 9:33am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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