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Awards Aside, GM Facing Product Problems

Maker’s bankruptcy leaves it scrambling for new models.

by on Jan.12, 2011

GM product chief Tom Stephens celebrates Chevy Volt's win as North American Car of the Year, on Monday. Photo by Len Katz.

Where’s the sheet metal?

It’s been a good week for General Motors, which opened the annual Detroit Auto Show by winning the coveted North American Car of the Year trophy, something you’ll readily find reference to as you wander through the maker’s sprawling stand at Detroit’s Cobo Hall.

But things looked a bit different during an early morning visit to the Detroit Auto Show — now that the media hordes have largely left town and before the public files in.  There’s surprisingly little new sheet metal to see.  And that suggests that while GM may have come through the NAIAS with flying colors it could face a little more trouble during the rest of auto show season.

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No question, things looked a lot better than they did in 2009 and 2010, when the maker was dealing with financial collapse and then struggling to rebuild itself as a new company. Volt’s victory only enhanced the perceived momentum of GM’s record IPO, in November.  But the Detroit maker traditionally buried the Detroit Auto Show under an avalanche of new products and concept vehicles – including past-year offerings like the Volt and Camaro show cars.