When it comes to addressing competitive disadvantages, health care is General Motors' top priority.
At the Management Briefing Seminars on Thursday, GM CFO John Devine also pointed to three other key competitive disadvantages for U.S.-based car companies.
1. Currency manipulation
2. Increasing regulatory environment
3. Poor perception of U.S. automakers
"On these issues, we have to fight through them," Devine said. "We have to overcome them. We have to be more competitive than our imports or transplants."
Health care cost GM $4.8 billion last year, or $1,400 per vehicle built in the United States.
"The costs are particularly unsustainable," Devine said. "It's an issue we have to confront at the company level, at the health care provider level, at the state level and, most importantly, in Washington."
Devine said U.S. manufacturers have to deal with "consistent currency manipulation over several years" not by China, but by Japan.
"It (Japan) gives a subsidy of several thousand dollars to the Japanese competitors here in the U.S.," he said. "We don't expect that to change. We have to overcome it."
Devine also addressed the disadvantage of an increasing regulatory environment, especially related to federal accounting changes.
"The integrity issues we've had to deal with in this country have brought this on," he said, referring to recent accounting scandals at major corporations.
Finally, GM is fighting the poor perception of U.S. automakers in general.
"For a long time, domestic producers did not have the right focus on quality, design or customer care," he said. "Today, we are all focused on this issue."