Incoming CEO Mary Barra is one reason 2014 could be a big year for General Motors. Photo credit: GM.

General Motors (NYSE:GM) has always had the potential to be a dominant global automaker. Like arch-rivals Toyota (NYSE:TM) and Volkswagen (OTC:VWAGY), GM has the scale, the brands, and the talent to be a highly profitable powerhouse.

But GM has yet to realize that promise. It sells far more vehicles than Ford (NYSE:F), but its profits still trail those of its crosstown rival. Decades of poor management led GM to bankruptcy court in 2009. GM survived only because of a humbling bailout by the U.S. government -- but that humiliation led to a new attitude at General Motors.

CEO Dan Akerson wasn't part of GM when the company ran itself into the ground. But the Wall Street veteran helped get the Detroit giant back on the road, and headed toward a more profitable future. Now Akerson is retiring, and the U.S. government is no longer a GM shareholder. Will 2014 be the year GM finally starts to realize its global potential?

Fool contributor John Rosevear is optimistic about the General's chances. In this short video, he outlines three reasons 2014 could be the year when GM -- free of government restrictions, and with a sharp new CEO -- finally puts the pedal to the metal.