General Motors Success Story: Pushing the Limits of Transportation & Technology

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General Motors, a multinational corporation based in the United States, was the leading automobile company for 77 years until it was surpassed by Toyota in 2008. Despite this, GM has consistently ranked among the top 15 companies on the Fortune 500 list, and recently moved up from No. 8 to No. 5. With operations in eight countries and four brands, GM is also involved in joint ventures with Chinese automakers and produces military vehicles for the US government.

General Motors - Company Highlights

  • Company Name-General Motors
  • Headquarters-Michigan, US
  • Sector-Automotive
  • Founder-William C. Durant, Charles Stewart Mott. Frederic L. Smith
  • Founded-September 16, 1908

General Motors - About

  • General Motors are the manufacturer, marketer, and distributor of vehicles and vehicle parts. GM is a public company owned by shareholders. General Motors formerly known as General Motors Corporation has been the world’s largest motor-vehicle company for most of the 20th and early 21st century. With a global presence, General Motors operates manufacturing and distribution plants not only in the United States and Canada but also across many other regions of the world. The company is majorly involved in the production of automobiles and trucks which also includes automotive components.

General Motors - Automotive Industry

  • The automotive industry comprises a wide range of companies and organizations involved in the business of manufacturing, design, marketing, and distribution of automotive products. The automotive industry began in the 1860s with a lot of manufacturers that pioneered change in the carriage system. Earlier the manufacturing process involved a lot of labor from engineering to very little work. At the beginning of the 1960s robotic equipment was introduced and now most of the work is automated. General Motors is been a leading manufacturer in the industry for decades.

General Motors - Founders and Team

  • The origins of General Motors date back to September 16, 1908, when the company was originally founded. However, the present-day version of the company is the result of a reorganization that took place on July 10, 2009. General Motors was established by William C. Durant, Charles Stewart Mott, and Frederic L. Smith.

William C. Durant

  • William Crapo Durant was a leading pioneer of the United States automobile industry. He co-founded General Motors and Chevrolet. He was the one who introduced the system of multiple marques with different automobile lines. He also founded Frigidaire.

Charles Stewart Mott

  • Mott was an industrialist and businessman in America. He co-founded General Motors along with the other two. He initiated the idea of building colleges and pledged $1 Million towards the project. He also founded the Flint Senior College now the University of Michigan - Flint.

Frederic L. Smith

  • Frederic Latta Smith was the pioneer of the automobile industry. He was one of the founders of the Olds Motor Works before he co-founded the General Motors Corporation in 1908. During the early years of the Association of Licensed Automobile Manufacturers Smith managed to be its president.

General Motors - Startup Story

  • In the early 1900s, the General Motors company was formed under the leadership of William C. Durant. The formation was to consolidate several motorcar companies like Buick, Oldsmobile, Oakland, Marquette, and other several autos. This consolidation also includes Reliance and Rapid Trucks. The auto giant was the innovative body that first introduced the electric self-starter in 1912. Though it became obsolete in the beginning. GM became the leading American passenger car manufacturer in 1929.
  • Durant first formed the company as a holding company, with Charles Stewart Mott as a partner. The name was initially borrowed from General Electric. In 1919, with the acquisition of Guardian Frigerator Company, became the GMAC, General Motors Acceptance Corporation. GMAC provides financing to automotive customers and the acquisition was renamed Frigidaire.
  • In 1920, GM heavily competed with the Ford Motor Company under the leadership of Alfred P. Sloan. He implemented the pricing strategy from least to most expensive vehicles in his annual model changes. Sloan also created a market for the previous year's car models as used cars. In 1921, GM patented the tetraethyllead (gasoline) compound and also developed Chlorofluorocarbons both were banned in the later years as harmful ingredients for the biosystem. In 1926, the Pontiac brand was introduced by GM along with the insurance program for its employees. In 1927, Sloan created the ‘Art and Colour Section’ of GM and Harley Earl was its first director. The automobile design created by Earl is still in practice. After Earl, Mitchell took over the design for GM.
  • GM invented the breakthrough in heat treatment by introducing the Jominy end-quench test for the hardenability of carbon steel in 1937. In 1939, the company placed its feet in the vehicle insurance market by finding the Motors Insurance Corporation. In the same year, the company introduced the world’s first affordable and successful automatic transmission.
  • The tremendous growth of Automatic Transmission Car sales has been recorded.
  • Automatic transmission is new normal as it provides numerous technological advances. The growth of production and sales is increasing every business year. The merits are super interesting.

Vibhavari Madki

  • Vast quantities of production happened during the times of world war 2 when the company supplied armaments, aircraft, and vehicles for the Allies of World War 2. Its German factories were destroyed by the U.S. forces during the war for which a compensation of $32M was received by the company.
  • In 1962, the first turbocharged engine was introduced by the GM for the Oldsmobile Cutlass Turbo-Jetfire. In the next two years, the company introduced its “Mark of Excellence” logo and trademark at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. The company used this mark as its main corporate identifier until 2021.
  • The first-ever hydrogen fuel cell car was released by General Motors Company in 1966. Though fuel cells were already in existence, GM was the first one to use them to power the vehicle. The budget to use the power cell supplied by Union Carbide was millions of dollars. It also introduced the first-ever turbochargers and gas turbine vehicles powered by kerosine, but later the techniques were abandoned due to the oil crisis in 1973.
  • GM produced the first rear-wheel anti-lock braking system for two vehicles namely the Toronado and Eldorado. The Oldsmobile Toronado is also the first retail car with a passenger airbag introduced in 1973. In 1975, GM installed the first catalytic converters in its models. The converters are exhaust emission control devices that convert toxic gases into less-toxic pollutants. Year after year GM proved itself by introducing various new techniques and innovations in the market.
  • In 1987, GM built the Sunraycer, which won the inaugural World Solar Challenge. This invention was a showcase of advanced technology. Later, in 1990, GM debuted the EV1 concept which is a battery electric vehicle at the LA Auto Show. But the EV1 lease was available to only a few dealers in California and Arizona. Production was stopped for this product as it would not be profitable for the company. This disappointed many people which led the company to deactivate and destroy the EV1s, 40 of which were donated to museums. The documentary film ‘Who Killed the Electric Car?’ covers the story of EV1. In 1993, Lotus cars by GM were sold to Bugatti.
  • It was in 1996, that GM completed the corporate spin-off of Electronic Data Systems. The next year, GM sold its military businesses of Hughes Aircraft Company to Raytheon Company. Being the king of inventions in the automotive industry, GM introduced the first full-sized pickup truck hybrid vehicle, the Chevrolet Silverado Sierra trucks in May 2004. Other than these mild hybrids, GM also developed another debutante using hybrid technology, along with DaimlerChrysler and BMW. In the same year, GM sold the electro-motive diesel locomotive design to Berkshire partners and Greenbriar Equity group.
  • GM added its “Mark of Excellence” emblem in all its productions till the reorganization in 2009. In 2005, GM newly created the vice president position to lead a global automotive design organization and made Edward T. Welburn the first VP. 2006 was the year when GM introduced the yellow gas cap on its vehicles to identify them as cars operated using E85 ethanol fuel and Saturn Vue Green Line.
  • In 2008, GM concentrated on reducing landfill waste to achieve the status of landfill-free production. It started recycling and reusing the wastes from manufacturing processes. This was the year GM was conscious about the environment and offered a 2-mode hybrid system in most of its vehicles. It also installed the world’s largest rooftop solar power installation in its manufacturing plant in Zaragoza.
  • After the reorganization, the company appointed a new CEO and made changes to the BOD team. The company became public through its public offerings in November 2010. This is one of the world’s top five largest IPOs to date. In the same year, the company became profitable. In the later periods of 2010, GM introduced extended-range electric vehicles (EREV) with backup generators powered by gasoline.
  • In 2013, GM and Honda partnered to develop a fuel cell system and hydrogen storage technology. They are the leaders in fuel cell technology holding most of the patents for fuel cells from 2002 to 2012. In 2015, the second generation Volt was launched in the United States and Canada. In 2017, GM introduced an autopilot feature in certain models of cars. In the same year, the GM Venezolana plant was seized by the Government of Venezuela in Valencia, Carabobo.
  • In November 2018, GM laid off 14000 employees in North America as it comprised the workforce by 15% and executive staff members by 25%. In 2019, GM ceased the production of the Chevrolet Volt and announced to begin of the production of the EV model in Lake Orion, Michigan. In January 2020, GM announced the return of the Hummer nameplate within the GMC portfolio known as GMC Hummer EV.

GMC Hummer EV

  • During the Covid period, GM assisted Ventec life systems to produce Ventilators. In September 2020, GM announced its partnership with Nikola Corporation to engineer and manufacture the Nikola Badger. Later, GM was committed to increasing capital investments in electric vehicles. GM in January 2021 announced its plan to stop the production and sales of fossil fuel vehicles as part of its goal to reach Carbon neutrality by 2040. It also announced its plan to start an automotive battery and battery pack laboratory in Michigan. GM facility at Brownstown Township is chosen to be upgraded as a battery pack plant. In April, GM announced its joint venture with LG to build batteries for electric vehicles.
  • Lately, GM also made the largest investment project in its home state, Michigan to invest $7B to convert plants to produce electric plants and build new battery plants.

General Motors - Mission and Vision

  • The original mission statement of GM is to earn customers for life by building brands that inspire passion and loyalty through not only breakthrough technologies but also by serving and improving the communities in which we live and work around the world.
  • The vision of the company is to stand together to drive the world forward. The statement is, “Everybody in. Our goal is to deliver world-class experiences at every touchpoint and do so on a foundation of trust and transparency."

General Motors - Name, Tagline, Logo

  • General Motors Company was formerly known as General Motors Corporation. The logo of GM fades from light blue to dark blue with GM letters in lowercase type. The logo intends to evoke the clean skies of a zero-emissions future and the energy of the Ultium platform. The company had only two basic emblems from the beginning of the company which is a script wordmark and a bow-tie design. The most recognizable bow-tie symbol was introduced in 1913 by William C. Durant on the Royal Mail model.

General Motors - Business Model

  • General Motors uses the Generic Strategy from Porter’s model as its business model. The competitive strategy of this model is cost leadership. This creates a competitive advantage based on the low costs of products.

General Motors - Revenue Model

  • The main source of revenue for the company is vehicle sales. It also earns an equal amount of revenue from its financing companies called GM Financial. The main stream of income for the company from the beginning is the manufacturing, assembling, and distribution of vehicles.

General Motors - Employees

  • General motors currently have 1,57,000 employees working in the company. The reward program at GM includes compensation, paid time off for holidays, high-quality health care, and GM family savings on vehicles, parts, and services.

General Motors - Challenges Faced

  • GM was the leading automobile industry for almost 77 years before its bankruptcy in 2009. The bankruptcy was due to the rising gas prices as consumers started looking elsewhere for fuel-efficient cars. When the sales went down, the company struggled to meet even the fixed cost expenses.

General Motors - Mergers and Acquisitions

  • General Motors had several acquisitions all these years. Here is a timeline glimpse of the latest and key acquisitions made by the company.

General Motors - Awards and Achievements

  • General Motors bagged 4 awards in 2018 and 3 awards in 2017. It won the best CEO award in 2018.

General Motors - Competitors

  • General Motors ruled as a monopoly for the most of 20th century and the earlier times of the 21st century. But, it also has some heavy competition in the market like Tesla, Toyota, Chrysler, Honda, and Ford.


What is General Motors known for?

  • General Motors Co. engages in the designing, manufacturing, and selling of cars, trucks, and automobile parts.

What does General Motors own?

  • General Motors owns Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GMC. Hummer returned as a GMC sub-brand. GM has a formal partnership with Honda to co-develop EVs.

What is the biggest controversy faced by GM?

  • GM was accused of having assisted the Nazis war during the second world war.

What was the reason for the failure of GM in India?

  • GM failed in India due to poor product planning and the lack of adaptability to the market.