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New York: General Motors in Siberia in Big Apple chill

Can't recall: The Chevrolet Trax was launched on the American market at the New York auto show, although most missed it.

All quiet on the GM front as American giant keeps a low profile at New York show

General Motors logo17 Apr 2014

By RON HAMMERTON in NEW YORK

AMERICA'S biggest motor company, General Motors, barely raised a whimper on press preview days at this year's New York auto show, seemingly keeping its head down after a long-running slanging match with lawyers and politicians over the company's recent safety record in North America.

The new Chevrolet Trax – a compact SUV made in Korea and sold in Australia as the Holden Trax – was launched without the conventional hooplah and speeches on the show stand, while a Cruze minor facelift and a Corvette special edition similarly went largely unnoticed by the global motoring media on official press days.

GM president Mary Barra did two pre-motor show evens, including one to celebrate the Corvette, taking the opportunity to press home her new-found mantra of safety first in car design after the recent recall of 2.6 million GM vehicles for a faulty ignition switches linked to 13 deaths.

She was mobbed by journalists and photographers eager to quiz her about the recalls, in which GM has been accused of tardiness in taking appropriate and timely action over faulty ignition switches on cars dating back up to 10 years.

To make matters seem even more disconnected, most of the GM brands – including the biggest, Chevrolet – were housed in an annexe building at New York's Jacob Javits exhibition centre, off the beaten route for most show-goers.

Only Cadillac made it into the main hall, rubbing shoulders with competitors such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz which went out of their way to stage global debuts for new models.

GM's long-time rival Ford used the show to reveal the new Focus sedan and a limited-edition Mustang to mark the 50th anniversary of the iconic muscle car. But the Blue Oval publicity machine amped up the coverage by hauling a new Mustang in bits up the Empire State Building to be re-assembed on the sky-high observation deck in a six-hour operation, as the original had been years ago.

Ford chairman Clay Ford made the journey up to the deck in the bitter wind to smile for the cameras and as pictures flew around the world.

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