Akerson is keen to repay the taxpayer and shed the unofficial government motors tag some critics apply

Akerson is keen to repay the taxpayer and shed the unofficial 'government motors' tag some critics apply

General Motors' new CEO Dan Akerson says the automaker is aiming to repay the taxpayer bailout of US$50bn during "the next couple of years."

The manufacturer has already paid off US$8.4bn in loans it had previously secured from the US and Canadian governments earlier than expected, but has now set an ambitious timetable of repaying the taxpayer in full.

"It is a goal of this company to return that money to the taxpayers of the US," Akerson said. "I don't think that will be in one fell swoop - that is not realistic - during the next couple of years that will happen.

"I don't think any investor group has infinite patience and I am sure the taxpayers of the US would like to see a return on their investment."

Akerson lauded the recent two quarters that have seen GM turn in some seriously impressive results, but cautioned "two quarters a trend does not make."

And the CEO highlighted the importance of GM to America's emergence from the long recession.

"This is a critical company at a critical time - core to the basic infrastructure of America," he said. "The manufacturing basis of this country is at stake. It is clear we have strong demand in certain brands and it is my hope that demand will drive production and jobs."

Akerson also reiterated the importance of GM's Opel division in Europe - despite the European manufacturer's current loss-making position.

"Opel was considered by the board and it is an important element of the GM family, of the mosaic," he said.

"We have made huge improvements in Opel. We are still losing money but we believe Europe to be a very important region of the world - I am confident we see progress."

Smooth industrial relations were also high on Akerson's wish list, with the CEO looking to have a healthy relationship with the crucial UAW labour organisation.

"The UAW is a very important constituency in our company and I view them in not an adversarial role, but in a partnership role," said Akerson.

"As we move forward we are going to have to craft a workable relationship. Days of the past are the past - I am looking out of the front windshield - we have to come to common ground."