Tim Higgins
Bloomberg News

After three straight years of profitability, General Motors wants to cut fixed costs in North America by $1 billion as it introduces about 20 new vehicles in the U.S. this year.

The company is refreshing U.S. showrooms with new models after its lineup was considered stale following the automaker’s 2009 bankruptcy reorganization. The product push includes a redesigned Cadillac CTS sedan, revealed at the current New York auto show, and 13 new Chevrolets, increasing GM’s financial outlay.

Fixed costs this year “are going up relatively significantly” compared with 2010 through 2012, Chuck Stevens, chief financial officer for GM North America, said. “Our objective is to drive that back down to 2010 to ’12 levels, so on average, $22 billion a year.”

Chief Executive Officer Dan Akerson wants to improve Detroit-based GM’s profitability and exceed the margins of competitors Ford and Volkswagen. The CEO said in an interview last year that he’d “rather be No. 1 in profitability in terms of either aggregate or margins, and we’re not.”

GM averaged a 7.4 percent adjusted earnings before interest and taxes margin during the past three years in North America and seeks to increase that to 10 percent by mid-decade, Stevens said.

The automaker is targeting 6 percent spending reductions in selling, general and administrative expenses, including savings found through bringing information technology work in-house, Stevens said. GM also is seeking to save 5 percent in manufacturing, he said.

Part of the manufacturing improvement will come from hiring lower-paid hourly workers in the U.S. as higher-paid workers leave through attrition, Stevens said. GM wants to double the number of lower-paid factory workers to 20 percent of the hourly work force, from 10 percent, he said.

GM has identified ways to increase revenue by $1 billion a year through five areas: introducing new products; expanding the Cadillac luxury brand; improving customer experience at dealerships; narrowing resale values, and improving leverage with GM’s captive finance arm.

This is “a very critical transition year for us as we start to lay the foundation for growth going forward,” he said.