"To play offense, whether it's in sports or in the military, speed is of the essence," he said in an on-the-record talk with reporters, the Detroit Free Press reported.
"We shift from being a defensive player to an offensive player. You can't assume that your competition will be static, either," he said.
Akerson took over from CEO Ed Whitacre on Sept. 1 and will take the chairmanship post from Whitacre at the end of the year.
GM, which is studying returning to life as a public company with an initial public offering this year, was in bankruptcy court in the summer of 2009 and emerged 61 percent owned by the federal government.
Akerson said GM would not payback the government in "one fell swoop."
However, "I don't think any investor group has infinite patience and I'm sure the taxpayers would like to see the return of their money," he said.