GM's first priority has to be getting customers excited again. DaimlerChrysler
At the same time, General Motors should probably eliminate some of its brands, as David Meier has commented. The company's array of nameplates just makes it too difficult to manage costs. Even if GM does manage to keep expenses to a minimum by employing interchangeable parts, this commonality tends to lead to homogenization among brands anyway, eliminating the distinctive features that might have attracted different buyers.
Finally, GM has to get serious about its much-ballyhooed efforts to create hydrogen-powered vehicles. Granted, the hydrogen economy won't happen overnight. But rapidly developing economies in India and China and high oil prices may be catalysts for sooner-than-anticipated adoption of such vehicles. The company's recent deal with the U.S. Department of Energy is a positive sign that fuel cell-driven cars remain on General Motors' radar.
There's little doubt that General Motors' near-term future looks pretty grim. But beaten-down U.S. carmakers have a history of staging turnarounds, and GM's case looks far from terminal.
Fool contributor Brian Gorman is a freelance writer in Chicago. He does not own shares of any companies mentioned in this article.