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Here's a preview of an editorial we're working on. Let us know what you think. The best comments will run alongside it in the print edition.

A year ago, when a group of GM executives came to The Sun to meet with the editorial board, they couldn't stop talking about the Chevy Volt. Then still in the conceptual stages, the plug-in electric hybrid was their answer for the future and repentance for years of pushing gas-guzzling SUVs that, at the time, had been made exceptionally unattractive by sky-high fuel prices. They seemed to pine for it, much like a baseball team trailing badly in the bottom of the ninth might wish for a six-run homer.

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A lot has changed since then. GM's vice president of sales, Mark LaNeve, was in Baltimore last week to meet with area dealers and to fill them in on the company's plans now that it has emerged from bankruptcy. When he stopped by The Sun, he was ga-ga over the Chevy Equinox, a small, four-cylinder SUV that gets 32 miles to the gallon. He had lots to say about the Chevy Cruze, due out next year and expected to be a strong competitor for the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic, and about a couple of new Cadillac models that should hit showrooms soon. The Volt? He didn't bring it up, and when he did, he talked about the car — expected to get as much as 235 miles to the gallon but to cost $40,000 to produce — less as a game-changer than as a small-scale experiment.

After so many years of watching a bloated, arrogant General Motors steadily and not so gracefully decline from a dominant global corporation to a government charity case, it's hard to be optimistic. None of its models were in the top 10 most popular cars purchased in the Cash for Clunkers program, and despite the wild success of that incentive, GM's sales in August were down 20 percent over the previous year, compared to a 17 percent increase for Ford and double-digit increases for Toyota and Honda.

But the company's plans for crawling back to profitability are refreshingly simple and modest: Hang onto a strong position in the lucrative truck and SUV sector and seek to expand its share of passenger car sales by making a few good cars and marketing the heck out of them. Shed of billions in liabilities for retiree health care and pensions and able through the bankruptcy process to slim down in a hurry, the company is positioned to make a profit without returning to the go-go days of $1.50 gas and Hummer-centric business plans.

Some have called the government takeover of GM's board an opportunity for the Obama administration to push a more radical makeover of the company, one that will focus it on building the cars of the future today. But GM's problem hasn't been its unwillingness to contemplate ideas beyond the internal combustion engine — in addition to the Volt, it has invested in hydrogen fuel cell research — but to do so at the expense of technology that can make more fuel efficient and profitable cars in the here and now. Even if, as Mr. LaNeve suggested, the price of the Volt can be pushed down to within $10,000 of its biggest eco-car competition, the Prius, you'd still need to drive about 250,000 miles before you'd break even financially, even assuming you could plug the Volt in for free.

The company's current strategy has the twin virtues of improving the fuel economy of the American car fleet substantially, if not radically, while giving the company a fighting chance of competing in the free market. GM officials are talking up the possibility of returning to profitability next year and paying the government back shortly thereafter. That timetable may be overly optimistic, but at least it looks like GM is heading in the right direction.

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