Henderson said it wasn't the end of the company, but "the start of a new and better chapter," after asking Americans to "give us another chance."
Henderson spoke Monday at a news conference in New York after the fallen icon of American industry filed for bankruptcy protection. President Barack Obama says it isthat will give the company "a chance to rise again."
Henderson says the new GM will be built from the strongest parts of its business, including its best brands and best products.
The company plans to focus on four core brands - Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac and GMC - and get rid of four others - Pontiac, Saturn, Hummer and Saab.
Consumers, worried about the economy and the future of GM, shied away from the company's cars and trucks this year even after President George W. Bush promised loans and Mr. Obama followed through with billions more in assistance - plus a stiff set of new requirements GM was ordered to meet.
When GM failed to do so by a March 31 deadline, Mr. Obama forced out CEO Rick Wagoner and replaced him with Henderson.
Wagoner served at the helm since 2000 and was the face of GM when he first flew on the company jet to ask Congress for aid. After a firestorm of negative publicity, Wagoner rode in a hybrid Chevrolet Malibu from Detroit to Washington for a second set of withering questions before lawmakers.
But that amounted to only a sideshow as the automaker's financial position worsened. Its revenues plunged almost 50 percent in the quarter ended March 30 and it racked up another $6 billion in losses.
The Henderson-led GM faced a government-imposed June 1 deadline to restructure, slash costs and modify contracts with its union and dealers. But meeting most of those demands, plus a late agreement by many bondholders to swap portions of the $27 billion in debt they are owed for shares in a new GM, were not enough to prevent the court filing.
In fact, it was an all-out sprint to Monday's filing, as GM quickly sought to nail down deals with its union, bondholders and sell off brands and along with most of its Opel operations in Europe in an effort to appear in court with a near-complete plan to quickly emerge as a leaner company with a chance to become profitable.