Strong products like the Chevy Impala have earned new respect for GM. But the company will need to do more to succeed in 2014. Photo credit: General Motors.

2014 will mark the fifth anniversary of General Motors' (GM 0.82%) exit from bankruptcy. That bankruptcy, along with a bailout funded by U.S. taxpayers, allowed GM to make huge changes in the way it does business. 

Change comes slowly in the auto business, but results of the changes made by GM are already starting to become visible. GM is solidly profitable, and its latest products are racking up strong sales and winning key awards. Consumer Reports' top-rated sedan and Motor Trend's current Car of the Year are both GM products, two big endorsements of GM's overhauled product-development process.

But more work needs to be done. GM's global operations still don't make the best use of the company's potential economies of scale. GM lost ground in China last year, and it's still losing money in Europe. Most importantly, GM's profits still trail those of its two biggest global rivals, Toyota (TM 2.79%) and Volkswagen (VWAGY 1.25%), by wide margins. 

In a couple of weeks, new CEO Mary Barra will take the wheel at GM. She will have her work cut out for her: As Fool contributor John Rosevear points out in this video, there are three things GM needs to get right in 2014 to shift its ongoing turnaround effort into high gear.