Akerson has said he expects GM to post a modest market share gain this year with total U.S. sales expected to rise from 14.5 million in 2012 to more than 15 million. At more than 15 million, the sales are almost back to what analysts consider normal levels, but they're still far short of the recent peak of almost 17 million in 2005.
Because of the losses in Europe, neither GM nor Ford can afford problems in North America, said James Albertine, an auto industry analyst for Stifel Research. "The story for North America essentially has to be airtight," he said.
But he predicts that GM will have an impressive year because of the new vehicles that are coming out, particularly the new pickup trucks, the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra. The Silverado is GM's top-selling vehicle, and the new version will arrive in the middle of a year in which pickup sales are expected to rise.
"Some of their key products are going to have a lot of momentum," Albertine said. "Overall I think they'll do a good job holding the progress that they've made to date."