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Last Updated: Friday, 5 January 2007, 12:37 GMT
GM 'will impose further job cuts'
GM manufacturing plant in India
GM is faring better in emerging markets
Carmaker General Motors (GM) will cut more jobs in the year ahead, chief executive Rick Wagoner has warned.

GM has closed 12 plants and cut more than 34,000 jobs in a bid to cut $9bn (4.6bn) from operating costs in 2006 after a $10.6bn net loss in 2005.

As well as cuts in its domestic market, the group will continue to expand in overseas markets like China and India.

The firm will also fight hard to retain its title as the world's leading car producer, Mr Wagoner added.

Over the coming year the group hopes to improve productivity, profitability and its competitive edge.

Union talks

One key area GM will focus on is its crippling health care burden, and it will be looking for more concessions as it begins talks with the United Auto Workers (UAW) Union over a new four-year contract.

I like being number one, and I think our people take pride in it
Rick Wagoner, GM

"We are not fully competitive yet," Mr Wagoner said. "We need to make progress in the 2007 negotiations.

"These are tough issues ... and health-care has put us at a $5bn disadvantage. The structure we have doesn't work in today's global industry."

Currently, health care costs account for $1,500 of each new car - versus about $200 for Asian rival Toyota.

GM also hopes to continue to increase its average transaction price, mainly through ongoing reductions in discount offers.

Many analysts expect the company to lose its number one spot to Japanese rival Toyota over the coming year.

'Number one'

GM has been battling a dip in demand for its cars in the face of strong competition from Asian rivals, with recent figures showing GM car sales fell 8.7% in the past year while Toyota's US sales rose almost 13%.

"I like being number one, and I think our people take pride in it," Mr Wagoner said. "We're not going to sit back and let somebody else pass us by."

In an effort to turn around its ailing fortunes, the group is rolling out a number of new products, as well as unveiling its new Camaro convertible concept car at the Detroit Motor Show this weekend.

While GM is experiencing trouble in the US market, its fortunes are flourishing overseas.

Foreign sales outstripped US sales for the third year running in 2006 and Mr Wagoner aims to capitalise on this growth.

However, the group could face another financial hurdle through the battle for control of bankrupt autoparts manufacturer Delphi.

A battle for control of Delphi broke out last month when Highland Investment proposed a $4.7bn reorganisation plan days after a group of private equity firms offered to spend $3.4bn to help Delphi emerge from bankruptcy.

But, if the deals fail to adequately resolve concerns over working contracts, Delphi staff could walk out on strike, effectively crippling production at its biggest customer and former parent company, GM.

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