Cars GM needs now

General Motors' product pipeline contains some interesting products that could help bolster swooning sales.

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Chevrolet Trax concept
At the 2007 New York Auto Show, General Motors unveiled three Korean-designed small concept cars, and said that the one that got the most votes in an online contest would enter production.

There wasn't much urgency about it at the time, but GM could really use an eye-catching little car right about now. America's appetite for small cars is growing and the Chevrolet Aveo that dealers sell now is simply outclassed by a growing list of competitors.

The Chevy Beat, a swoopy-looking green number, won the balloting. It goes on sale overseas next year, which could give a nice boost to foreign sales. Of the other two cars voted on, American buyers could get some version of the Groove, which looked a little like the Dodge Caliber, or the Trax, pictured to the right.

Many say what GM really needs is the Chevy Volt, an electric car with an on-board gasoline engine that generates range-extending power. It's under development and may go on sale in 2010.

If GM can produce the Volt in large numbers at a reasonable price, it will give the carmaker a much-needed image boost. Unfortunately, the expense of developing and producing it probably won't do much for the company's bottom line.

From that standpoint, GM really needs more small cars. Small cars don't require expensive batteries and with engineering platforms shared globally, GM could make some profit. That's something the Volt is unlikely to generate for a long time.

Last updated August 03 2008: 9:45 AM ET
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