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GM begins new century with foreign focus

General Motors Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner and his senior leadership team, sign the 2007 UAW-GM national labor contract at a special ceremony held at the UAW-GM Center for Human Resources in Detroit, Michigan on November 12, 2007. The new contract is effective for the next four years. (UPI Photo/John F. Martin/General Motors)
General Motors Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner and his senior leadership team, sign the 2007 UAW-GM national labor contract at a special ceremony held at the UAW-GM Center for Human Resources in Detroit, Michigan on November 12, 2007. The new contract is effective for the next four years. (UPI Photo/John F. Martin/General Motors) | License Photo

DETROIT, Jan. 2 (UPI) -- General Motors Corp. is increasingly focusing on developing markets as it begins its second century as a U.S. automaker, its chief executive officer said.

"A lot of the first century was about the U.S. and developed markets," Rick Wagoner told the Detroit Free Press. "It's really going to be a very different geography for our business as we go forward."

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GM, which turns 100 Sept. 16, is to unveil a yearlong celebration called GMnext that includes GM's near-term vision of vehicles as a safer and more fuel efficient, the newspaper said.

GM founder William Durant is largely credited for giving auto consumers a wide array of brands, models and colors from which to choose. Durant added Oldsmobile, Cadillac, AC Spark Plug, Oakland (later Pontiac) and Rapid Motor Vehicle Co. (now GMC) to GM a year after starting the business as a holding company for independent automaker Buick Motor Co.

Durant -- ousted in 1910 as part of a deal in which bankers took control of near-bankrupt GM in exchange for bailing out the young automaker -- started Chevrolet with Swiss racecar driver Louis Chevrolet in 1911. The company was so profitable, Durant secretly bought a controlling interest in GM and took back the company in 1917 after one of the most dramatic proxy wars in U.S. business history.

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Today, Chevrolet is the best-selling U.S. brand. And GM sells more vehicles overseas than in the United States.

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