General Motors (Fortune 500) has been the beneficiary of a spate of good news lately. ,
Item: The Treasury Department will begin selling off its remaining 19% stake (300.1 million shares) as the Obama administration unwinds its bailout of the automaker.
Item: GM expects modest growth in global auto sales in 2013 with improvements in China and the United States.
Item: The gusher of bad news out of Opel has slowed to a trickle with the appointment (finally) of a new CEO.
Item: Investors pushed GM's stock price up from $23.85 in November to a high of $30.60 before settling back down to $28.57. On Christmas Eve, Goldman Sachs reinstated coverage with a buy rating and a $35 price target.
But dangers lurk all around for GM's North American operations, which just can't seem to get out of their own way. Part of the problem is working through the weak product entries that came through the engineering process just before bankruptcy, but other issues seem systemic.
A look at what's in store for the world's automakers this year will tell a lot about what to expect for cars down the road.