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 |  Sep 09 2010, 2:25 PM

General Motors’ new CEO, Daniel Akerson told employees over his first webcast since taking over on September 1st that GM’s newest vehicles have to be better than cars produced by European competitors such as BMW. We’ve heard this before.

Akerson, 61, has just taken over for former CEO Ed Whitacre at the recovering automaker, and says that GM needs to be in “attack mode” rather than simply responding to what other automakers do. GM has been playing catch-up with the Europeans for the last three decades, and, unfortunately, in most cases, losing. We certainly admire Akerson’s position, after all, it’s going to take “attack mode” and much more if GM truly wants to build cars better than Europeans.

They also have to re-define the term “better.” The Cadillac CTS-V is a perfect example. It’s faster around a race track than the BMW M5 and costs $20,000 less. It also gets better fuel economy, and our money says its more reliable, too. But if you asked 100 people which is the better car, we’d bet at least 80 would choose the BMW for two reasons: tactile feel and brand image. GM needs to take the lead when it comes to interior build quality, which they have never, ever done. Sure, the new CTS is a step in the right direction, but the quality of leather is lacking compared to top-tier European cars.

Akerson even commented that for Cadillac it needs to build cars that are better than the BMW 3 Series, 5 Series and 7 Series. To do this, however, they’ll have to get the product lineup sorted out. If you want to “beat” BMW, build a $90,000 flagship car with better features, build quality, driving dynamics, and materials than a 7-series. And make it something that rappers, actors, and kids want to buy, but can’t afford. People buy a 3-series because they can’t afford a 7-series. No one buys a CTS because they can’t afford a DTS.

So far this year, sales of Cadillac models trails BMW significantly with the GM luxury brand managing to move just 47,000 cars compared to 139,236 BMWs.

[Source: Associated Press]