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Advice for GM's CEO Mary Barra

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- All automakers, including General Motors (GM - Get Report), are in the early stages of a siege from the most innovative automotive company, Tesla (TSLA - Get Report).

This article is an action plan for what GM and its newly announced CEO, Mary Barra, need to do in order to prevent Tesla from taking away a large chunk of its customers within a decade from now.

Let's first stipulate what kind of cars people want in the new world of electrified transportation:

A Wide Range of Body Styles and Sizes

Cars are different for a reason. People are different and so are their needs. You have small cars, big cars and all sizes in between. Some cars are two-wheel drive, others four-wheel drive. Some have high ground clearance, others low.

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So far, there has been too little choice as to the body styles offered with some form of plug-in. Mostly they have been smaller cars, some four-seaters (Chevrolet Volt and Spark come to mind). Even the Tesla Model S doesn't have a roomy rear seat -- it's very low and ceiling height is too low.

There are very few four-wheel drive plug-ins available worldwide (only Volvo and Mitsubishi), and about as few with high ground clearance. None with three rows of seats, fitting seven or eight full-sized adults.

Many people I know who have a Chevy Volt are telling me: I want my next car to be as large as a Honda (HMC) Odyssey or Chevrolet Suburban. This is where a good chunk of the market will be, and Tesla will be there with the Model X in 2015 or 2016 at the latest.

A Choice of All-Electric and Extended-Range (Hybrid)

While the math made by most people in the auto industry points to extended-range hybrids (such as the Volt) being the most economical plug-in over the lifetime of the car, Tesla and Nissan among others have proven that all-electrics also do sell, whether it's rational or not. There will be a rainbow of solutions, again because people and their needs are different.

From a technical standpoint, the three most interesting cars to be launched are the Chevrolet Volt, the Tesla Model S and the BMW i3 with range-extender. They represent the three major architectural choices for full-power electric motor driving -- all-electric with long range, as well as two types of extended-range.

The Importance of Infrastructure, Even as a Strict Marketing Tool

Most people with a plug-in car charge in two places, most of the time: at home and at the office. That said, most of the time we also don't need -- or want -- insurance. Insurance is not for what we do every day or every week. Perhaps not even every month. It's for the outlier event.

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