More stories related to New York Auto Show NEW YORK – Gary Cowger, president of General Motors Corp.’s North American operations, says he expects fullsize truck and SUV sales to continue at their present rate despite rising gasoline prices.

“I don’t see any reason why not,” he says. Cowger makes the remark while being hustled out of the Jacob K. Javits exhibition center here after a keynote speech that kicked off the press days of the New York International Auto Show.

In his speech, Cowger promises GM will not use recent financial setbacks as excuses. “We’re concentrating on how to overcome them,” Cowger says. “We are extremely focused on what we need to do.”

GM’s Cowger says variants of Pontiac G6 and Chevy Cobalt are coming.

That includes a shift in marketing strategy to reflect a value focus where sticker prices are closer to transaction prices. “We want to make sure that people know what only GM can do,” Cowger says. (See related story: Marketing Key to GM Success)

He says the Pontiac G6 product line will be expanded this year with new variants, and the Chevrolet Cobalt also will get new models. “We’re optimistic this momentum will continue to build,” he says.

Cowger refers to new appointees in top sales and marketing positions and new general managers as “young and driven to succeed.”

He repeats GM’s call for changes in health-care benefits for employees and retirees that are needed to make the world’s No.1 auto maker more competitive.

He also notes the increasing diversity in the marketplace.

“You have to reach everyone,” he says. “GM is positioned to do just that.” He points to the ongoing campaign GM is conducting in major metro markets to recruit Hispanic salespeople for its dealerships.

Having more bilingual staff in dealerships will ensure effective communication with Spanish-speaking customers, he says.