GM veteran Bob Lutz emphasised the need for GM to consolidate following a turbulent 12 months when he opened today's LA motor show.
Speaking less than 24 hours after GM president Fritz Henderson was ousted during a boardroom coup - and as a late stand-in speaker in place of Henderson - Lutz said: "I'm a last-minute sub, apologies. All of us were surprised and saddened yesterday.
"Fritz is a fine exec, given to extraordinary intelligence and common sense. He guided us through bankruptcy, and we must be grateful for that. But we have a corporation to run, and wish to keep the focus on product today.
"It's hard to imagine the transformation today of the last 12 months. We now have a healthier balance sheet and less debt - lower costs too. We will begin paying the government back sooner than planned.
"The challenge now is to make people more aware of our remaining US brands: Chevy, Buick, GMC, Caddy. You have to get your brands right or you're dead. We can devote more resources to each brand now, and that will inevitably lead to better products."