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The market for more fuel efficient cars seems to be growing by leaps and bounds. Whether gas, hybrid, or pure electric, automakers are finding ways to improve efficiency to help consumers spend less at the gas pump. In many ways, companies are using fuel efficiency as a key marketing tool across their platforms to woo consumers to consider their brand. In the past, brands such as Toyota's (NYSE:TM) Prius have dominated this segment of the market. This may no longer be the case, and the entrance of American car companies into this market could help these companies gain market share as 2011 and 2012 unfold.

Recently, General Motors (NYSE:GM) announced that it was re-tooling plants to facilitate increased production of the Chevy Volt. By doing this, GM instantly becomes a major player in a market that once seemed to be owned by Toyota and its Prius. With the announcement that it will be making as many as 60,000 Chevy Volts in 2012, GM's electric car production takes the company above everyone else in the market. In recent months, other entrants to the electric market have also made waves, but none are produced in numbers that fill the demand. Nissan's (OTCPK:NSANY) Leaf saw high pre-orders, and Mitsubishi (OTCPK:MSBHY) is launching an electric of its own that promises to make going green affordable. Neither company is producing compelling numbers that compare to the 60,000 Chevy Volts hitting the streets.

The big benefit for GM here is that there is a large segment of the population that likes to buy domestic brands. Ford (NYSE:F), ahead of the curve on many issues these days, is still a few steps behind with an electric of its own, and Chrysler at this point does not even appear to be on the electric map. This means that green shoppers that want to "Buy American" have but one choice, and given that some of the import brands are not able to produce high numbers of electrics, it stands to reason that GM could benefit in a big way.

GM already sells more cars in the U.S. than anyone else, and in 2011, GM stands a chance of wresting the title of global leader from Toyota in sales. Now, by becoming a leader in the electric car market, GM can make inroads in areas that simply were not available to it prior to the disaster in Japan. Finally, we have an American car company thinking beyond just the next quarter.

GM stock has hit recent lows of about $31 after hitting a price of about $39 per share as recently as February. One factor in the decline in price from GM was when the company came in second to Ford in U.S. sales in March. Its sales numbers rebounded in April and will likely retain the top spot in May. IF GM can garner a decent chunk of the "green market" ahead of its domestic competitors, the company will build a loyalty that could deliver benefits for years to come.

If investors can stop and think outside the box, they will see that GM is entering a market that that it once ignored, and it is entering it in a big way. For once, timing seems to be on GM's side, and while it will take the market some time to adjust to this newly developed market for GM, the benefits will be realized soon enough.

With higher production and more car sales on the horizon, GM stands a chance to continue to announce good numbers that will make the company more of a value to investors. Is GM a buy at about $31 and Ford at about $15? I think the answer is yes. Both companies have a good handle on the sector and should see continued improvements throughout 2011 and going into 2012. With GM, the electric market gives it an edge that currently does not exist. GM going green could translate into its share price going green.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

Source: As GM Goes Green, So Could Its Shares