General Motors

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General Motors Company

legal form Corporation
ISIN US37045V1008
founding 1908 / re-establishment in 2009
Seat Detroit , Michigan , United States
United StatesUnited States 
Number of employees 164,000
sales 137.2 billion US dollars
Branch Automotive industry
As of December 31, 2019

General Motors Building in Detroit; from 1923 to 1996 GM head office
Renaissance Center in Detroit, today's corporate headquarters
GMC logo on the grille of a rusted tow truck
Copy of a General Motors share

The General Motors Company ( GMC ) is a globally operating US automotive group that owns several brands worldwide . The company founded in 2009 with a US / Canadian majority stake as Vehicle Acquisition Holdings LLC took over as NGMCO, INC. with the transfer and purchase agreement of June 26, 2009 finally on July 10, 2009 the assets (called 'GM Asset Sale') of the insolvent General Motors Corporation ( Old GM ). As the new General Motors Company LLC (also New GMC ) it continues the business of the Old GM . The former General Motors Corporation has been operating as Motors Liquidation Company since July 15, 2009 .

From 1931 to 2007 General Motors was the world's largest automobile manufacturer based on sales figures, but fell behind Toyota in 2008. In 2011, GM was briefly the largest automotive company again (based on sales figures) as a result of a natural disaster . In 2013, GM was in second place. In addition to motor vehicles, the group also produces vehicle components. Until 2006 he also offered financial services through his then subsidiary GMAC .

In 2012 General Motors concluded a cooperation with PSA Peugeot Citroën and took a 7% stake in PSA. The aim of the cooperation was to make GM Europe ( Opel / Vauxhall Motors ) more competitive through joint purchasing and the development of joint platforms, for example . In August 2017, Opel and Vauxhall were taken over by Groupe PSA.

With a turnover of 166.4 billion US dollars and a profit of 9.4 billion US dollars, GM is the 40th largest company in the world according to Forbes Global 2000 (as of 2017). The automaker had a total market capitalization of $ 50.8 billion in early 2017.


From the foundation to the 21st century

General Motors was founded on September 16, 1908 by William C. Durant and acquired the competitor Buick and Oldsmobile that same year . During the 1920s and 1930s General Motors took over the Yellow Coach company , helped build Greyhound's long-distance bus routes , and replaced long-distance trams with buses . In 1909, GM acquired Cadillac , Cartercar Company , Elmore Manufacturing , Ewing Automobile Company, and Oakland (later Pontiac). Chevrolet was added in 1918 .

GM set up subsidiaries to buy up other companies that manufactured trams and replace the trams used with buses. In 1929 the engine manufacturer Allison Engine Company was acquired . In 1930 GM bought the railway engine manufacturer Winton Engine Company and switched production from electric to diesel engines . With the Flint strike at the turn of 1936/37 the widespread union organization of GM workers began. At the same time, GM publicized its GM Futurliner, designed by chief designer Harley Earl , in the Parade of Progress , a well-known promotional event for the company that showcased advanced technologies.

During the Second World War, General Motors and its subsidiaries supplied both warring parties. This alone comprised a tenth of total American arms production. According to a 1974 report by the American Senate , General Motors (as well as Ford and Chrysler ) expanded into many European countries, including Germany ( Opel ), during the 1920s and 1930s . The companies supplied both the US Army and the Wehrmacht of the German Reich with trucks.

After World War II, General Motors and Ford claimed reparations from the American government because their factories in Germany had been damaged by Allied attacks.

In 1950, General Motors was fined $ 5,000 for a plot of conspiracy (around $ 52,993 based on today's value). The aim of the conspiracy was to buy up and destroy the network of electric trams, so that local public transport should have been dependent on GMC buses. This is the reason why trams are rarely found in the US today.

In 1953 the construction machinery manufacturer Euclid Trucks was bought .

On December 31, 1955, General Motors became the first American company to announce annual sales of more than one billion US dollars.

In 1979 General Motors sold the Frigidaire subsidiary to White Consolidated Industries.

In 1981 GM had sales of approximately $ 60.0 billion and employed 657,000 people.

In 1986 a joint venture was established with Volvo , into which both companies brought their heavy truck businesses in North America.

In 2003, GM had sales of 185.52 billion US dollars, of which 51.63 billion were abroad. 294,000 people were employed worldwide, 104,000 of them outside the United States. After the alliance with Renault / Nissan , favored by Kirk Kerkorian , up to then the largest single shareholder, failed in 2006, the latter sold a large part of his shares. General Motors sold around 9 million vehicles in 2011.

Bankruptcy and Nationalization

In 2007, General Motors had sales of $ 181.1 billion and posted the largest loss in its history at $ 38.7 billion. In its balance sheet, the group had a debt of over 185 billion and over-indebtedness of 37 billion US dollars for 2007. The slump in sales of SUVs , vans and pickups triggered by the drastic rise in gasoline prices and, at the end of 2008, by general reluctance to buy and unobtainable credit for consumers due to the financial crisis , the financially ailing company was forced to take drastic restructuring measures. Since 2008, the group was threatened with bankruptcy, according to its own information, liquidity only lasted until the end of 2008. The takeover talks with competitor Chrysler were therefore discontinued, the Hummer brand was liquidated and the sale or discontinuation of other brands was decided. A recovery plan was to cut 47,000 jobs worldwide, including 26,000 outside the United States. In return, state aid in the billions is to be granted by the US government. The subsidiary Saab filed for bankruptcy in February 2009. The German subsidiary Opel needed state guarantees of 3.3 billion euros.

At the end of February 2009 General Motors published its financial figures for 2008 and suffered the fourth billion-dollar loss in a row. The company drove a loss of 30.9 billion US dollars (24.2 billion euros). Much higher than expected by the experts, the loss in the fourth quarter of 2008 amounted to 9.6 billion US dollars. Because of the crisis in 2008, the company had received government aid amounting to 13.4 billion US dollars; According to the company, however, it would take up to $ 30 billion over the course of 2009 to avoid bankruptcy. In 2008, the value of GM shares fell 87.21%. In published on 5 March 2009 Annual Report GM pointed light of an its auditors check out explicitly that the continuation of the group is at significant risk, and that the risk of bankruptcy for Chapter 7 insist that the liquidation of the company would have resulted. (See also Chapter 11 , Reorganizing Company Finances).

GM initially planned to discontinue the Pontiac brand as part of its restructuring and to concentrate on the core brands GMC , Buick , Cadillac and Chevrolet in North America in order to ensure the continued existence of the group. As a result, the company also wanted to part with Saab , Hummer and Saturn in 2009 . For the first quarter of 2009, GM reported consolidated sales of $ 22.4 billion (year-ago period: 42.4 billion) and a quarterly loss of $ 5.9 billion (previous year: 3.2 billion).

Six top GM managers, including Robert A. Lutz and Carl-Peter Forster , who is Group Vice President responsible for European business, sold all of their shares at the beginning of May 2009. A total of more than 200,000 shares were sold at a unit price of 1.45 to 1.61 US dollars, as GM announced on May 11, 2009 in a mandatory notification to the SEC.

Almost 101 years after the company was founded, General Motors filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on June 1, 2009 . Filing indicated that GM had $ 82.3 billion in assets and $ 172.8 billion in debt as of the reporting date. The bankruptcy was supposed to be settled within three months, but was then completed after 40 days on July 10, 2009. The majority of the group was nationalized: The USA received 60.8% of the shares as part of the emergency nationalization , Canada 11.7% of the shares. 17.5% of the shares were taken over by a fund of the UAW auto workers' union and 10% of the shares were distributed to the creditors. The brands Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC were retained. Other brands were sold. Worldwide over 35,000 employees should be laid off at GM. For the European subsidiary Opel, the takeover by Magna and a Russian partner initially became apparent; however, GM's board of directors decided on November 3rd to keep the European subsidiary.


16 months after bankruptcy and nationalization, GM returned to the stock exchange in November 2010. Because of the great demand, GM had increased the number of common shares by almost a third to 478 million. The unit price of 33 US dollars resulted in a value of around 16 billion US dollars. In addition, 87 million preferred shares were issued at a price of US $ 50 each. With a total volume of around 23.1 billion, this was the largest IPO of all time. At the beginning of 2012, GM planned an alliance with the French auto company PSA Peugeot-Citroën. As part of the alliance, GM took a 7.0% stake in PSA.

Effects of the state rescue

The US government spent a total of $ 51 billion on bailing out General Motors through nationalization. By December 2013, GM was privatized again through the sale of the state shares, which brought in $ 39 billion for the tax authorities. In total, the state rescue cost $ 12 billion. According to a study by the Center for Automotive Research, the state bailout saved 1.2 million jobs and $ 34.9 billion in tax revenue.

Ignition lock debacle

At the beginning of 2014, GM had to recall around 2.6 million cars due to defective ignition locks. The ignition locks jumped in the off position while driving, causing the engine and electronics to shut down, causing the steering, brakes and airbag systems to malfunction. In April 2015, General Motors announced that it would pay compensation for around 80 deaths and 148 non-fatal accidents caused by defective ignition locks. In May 2015, a federal judge ruled that the 2009 bankruptcy proceedings protected GM from claims for damages. Plaintiffs can only sue for the depreciation of their cars (for cases after the bankruptcy has ended).

Group structure

GM worldwide sales 2016
(in thousands)
in GM
country Sales
share (in%)
1 United StatesUnited States United States 3,043 17.3%
2 China People's RepublicPeople's Republic of China People's Republic of China (2015) 1,746 7.3%
- European UnionEuropean Union European Union 979 -
3 BrazilBrazil Brazil 346 17.4%
4th MexicoMexico Mexico 309 19.2%
5 CanadaCanada Canada 267 13.7%
6th United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom 251 9.3%
7th GermanyGermany Germany 245 7.3%
8th Korea SouthSouth Korea South Korea 183 10.0%
9 ArgentinaArgentina Argentina 100 14.2%
10 ItalyItaly Italy 95 5.2%
11 AustraliaAustralia Australia 94 8.2%
12 SpainSpain Spain 89 7.8%
13 ColombiaColombia Colombia (2015) 67 23.7%
14th FranceFrance France (2015) 64 3.4%
15th TurkeyTurkey Turkey 55 5.6%
16 RussiaRussia Russia 42 3.0%
17th IndiaIndia India 29 1.0%
18th South AfricaSouth Africa South Africa 24 4.5%

General Motors was the largest automobile manufacturer in the world by sales for 77 years . Due to the ongoing sales problems, General Motors lost this position in the first quarter of 2008 to its Japanese competitor Toyota and continued to lose ground in the second quarter of 2008. The company is headquartered in Detroit , Michigan . 1 May 2003. Chief Executive Officer and, since June 1, 2000 at the same time Chairman of the Board was Rick Wagoner . He resigned with immediate effect at the end of March 2009 under pressure from the US government . One of his predecessors was Roger B. Smith . Wagoner's successor was Frederick A. Henderson , who, however, resigned after only half a year. For a transition period, Edward Whitacre, Junior took over the management of the company. On August 12, 2010, Whitacre announced that he would be stepping down as CEO of General Motors effective September 1, 2010. He was succeeded by board member Daniel Akerson . Whitacre remained chairman until late 2010 , before Akerson took over the position. Mary Barra has succeeded Akerson as CEO since 2014 . Due to the earthquake disaster in Japan and higher sales, GM was able to become the largest car manufacturer again for one year in 2011.

Brands and holdings

GM owns brands in the United States , China and Australia and manufactures in local plants, with models being sold under different brands in different markets.

As recently as 2000, GM had no fewer than 13 brands, each with its own range of models except Vauxhall. The number of brands has now been reduced to 8 and only four different model ranges are expected in the medium term. The Oldsmobile , Pontiac , Saturn and Hummer brands were discontinued, and Saab , Opel and Vauxhall were sold.

Current brands and markets

No large series vehicles are produced under the General Motors brand itself, only experimental small series such as the General Motors EV1 (GM EV1).

Lower and middle price segment

In the lower price segment, GM operates almost worldwide under the Chevrolet brand . The ranges of the old US brand Chevrolet and the South Korean GM Daewoo (since 2011: GM Korea ) are currently being merged. In South Korea and Vietnam, the Daewoo brand was retained until 2011. With a few exceptions, the vehicles offered by Holden in Australia correspond to the GM Daewoo models.

Chevrolet is the Group's only brand in South America. Some of the models offered there are older developments from various group brands. In China there is also the Baojun brand, which has an even lower price . The Buick brand is offered in the mid-price segment in the USA and China .

Premium segment

As a premium brand, GM relies on the Cadillac brand worldwide .

Special brands

The GMC brand is used in the United States, Canada, China, and the Middle East for SUVs, pickups, and trucks .

In order to differentiate the Corvette more clearly from the other Chevrolet models (here in particular from vehicles from GM Korea ), it was offered as a separate brand in Europe between 2005 and 2011. At the 2010 Geneva Motor Show , Bob Lutz announced that the Corvette would be reintroduced into the Chevrolet model range in Europe. The market launch took place in spring 2011. In Japan, the Corvette - the only GM model offered there - is its own brand.

Participations and joint ventures (current and dissolved)

GM works with Isuzu Motors Ltd. through financial participation and technological cooperation . and Suzuki Motor Corporation together. Development agreements have been concluded with Toyota and BMW . In addition, there are manufacturing joint ventures in the People's Republic of China and Russia with Toyota, Suzuki, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation , AwtoWAS and Renault .

On February 14, 2005, the cooperation with Fiat was discontinued. For a payment of 1.55 billion euros, GM bought itself free of its commitment made in 2000 to fully take over Fiat and sold its existing 10% stake. Other European commitments are being scrutinized because of their lack of profitability. In October 2005, GM sold its 20 percent stake in Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd (owner of the Subaru automotive brand ), and Fuji Heavy ended all existing collaborations.

In 2005, GM discontinued the Daewoo brand outside of South Korea . The vehicles from the (since 2011: former) GM Daewoo plants have since been sold mainly (including in Europe) under the brand name Chevrolet, but in Australia as Holden . The Daewoos brand name was only retained for Uz-DaewooAvto . The General Motors Egypt still produces the Lanos under the Daewoo label. In the meantime, the name Daewoo has also disappeared in (South) Korea and replaced by Chevrolet.

Other business areas and brands

The GM Group uses other company names in addition to the classic automobile brands. Some of these are directly related to automobile production. For example, financial services are offered as part of sales financing . In addition, the GM Group is active in industries that are not related to vehicle production.

GM spare parts and accessories are sold under the brand names GM, GM Goodwrench and ACDelco , and engines and transmissions are sold under the GM Powertrain brand.

Companies not directly assigned to the auto business are:

As part of the redevelopment course in spring 2006, 51 percent of GMAC Financial Services was sold to a consortium led by the hedge fund Cerberus Capital Management together with 78 percent of the real estate division GMAC Commercial Holding for a further USD 8.8 billion -Dollars sold to a group of investors.

Former brands

Historic vehicle brands

General Motors has discontinued brands repeatedly throughout its history. Mostly these were brands that were only used for a few years, but with Oldsmobile , Pontiac and Bedford it also met traditional brands .

William Durant bought a number of car brands between 1908 and 1910 from which he formed the group. Quite a few were subsequently hired, some during the time he was excluded from GM (1910–1915). These brands included B. Cartercar , Elmore , Marquette Motor Company , Peninsular , Rainier , Welch , Welch-Detroit and the taxi maker Ewing . In 1913 William C. Durant (who had to leave GM for the first time in 1910) founded the Republic Motor Company in Tarrytown , New York as a holding company to finance the purchase of the former Maxwell-Briscoe and Little Motor Car Company plants in Flint, Michigan ) . This became Chevrolet. Republic automobiles were never built in Tarrytown . 1917 GM acquired the tractor Farmer Samson Sieve-Grip Tractor Company in Stockton (California) and put it in the following year with the Janesville Machine Company in Janesville (Wisconsin) together. The expectation that Samson would be able to compete with the successful Fordson from Ford was not fulfilled, in 1923 Samson was given up.

In the 1920s, Yellow Coach and, for a short time, the small car manufacturer Scripps-Booth were added. In 1920 GM acquired the facilities of the Inter-State Automobile Company to manufacture the Sheridan there . This was the last brand to be introduced by Durant; after his departure it was sold to his new Durant Corporation in 1921 . In addition, General Motors expanded its range of brands in order to place a sister brand ("Companion Marque)" between each of the five existing vehicle brands. The aim was to reduce the price differences between the individual group brands and to broaden the range. For this purpose, they were priced below the corresponding "parent brand". Of course, they benefited from this through synergies in the technology and marketing areas. Only Chevrolet did not receive such a second brand.

The first appeared in 1926 Pontiac as a subsidiary brand of Oakland (1907-1931). The name goes back to a historic Indian chief, but also refers to a forerunner company from Oakland (1906-08). The success of Pontiac led to the discontinuation of the more expensive Oakland in 1931. Shortly thereafter, Cadillac brought out its second brand with the LaSalle (1927–1940). 1,929 were for model year 1930 two more launches: The Marquette by Buick , was reminded by the GM pioneer brand in 1912, and the Viking of Oldsmobile . Unfortunately, the launch of these two brands coincided with the onset of the economic crisis that broke out as a result of the November 1929 stock market crash. Both brands failed and were discontinued after only one model year. Their products were continued as "entry-level models" by Buick and Oldsmobile.

Thus, after the Second World War there were again five core brands (plus the commercial vehicle manufacturer GMC ).

Other brands were created in order to be able to offer vehicles in certain markets. Some of these were even cars that were produced by other manufacturers. Examples are Geo , Asüna , Passport or Beaumont for the USA or Canada and Ranger in South Africa.

Hiring and Sales in the 21st Century

  • Geo-Logo.svg Geo - This brand was founded in 1988 and was owned by Chevrolet. Geo models have been marketed as Chevrolet since 1998 . Geo were often built in cooperation with Asian manufacturers.
  • Oldsmobile v3 car brands logo.svg Oldsmobile - Production of the traditional US brand was discontinued on April 29, 2004 due to insufficient demand.
  • Pontiac Logo 3D.svg Pontiac - This American brand was discontinued at the end of 2009 without replacement.
  • Lobster wordmark.svg Hummer - After failed sales negotiations with the Chinese group Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Company , production of the American off-road vehicle brand was discontinued starting in March 2010 without replacement.
  • Saturn logo.svg Saturn - The purely American brand was discontinued in October 2010. Vehicle production ended on October 1, 2009.
  • Saab.svg Saab - The Swedish automaker was sold to the Dutch automaker Spyker Cars on February 23, 2010 . On December 19, 2011, he filed for bankruptcy.
  • Opel-Logo-2011-Vector.svg Opel - the German car manufacturer was taken over by the French Groupe PSA together with its British sister company Vauxhall in 2017 .
  • Vauxhall Brand Logo.PNG Vauxhall - the English company was sold together with Opel to the French Groupe PSA in March 2017.

Timeline of current and former vehicle brands

General Motors automotive brands timeline since 1897
brand 1890 1900 10s 20s 30s 40s 50s 60s 70s 80s 90s 2000 2010
McLaughlin McLaughlin McLaughlin-Buick
Oldsmobile Olds Oldsmobile
Scripps Booth
GMC Rapid GMC truck GMC
Yellow Coach
Daewoo Saehan Daewoo
  •  Automobile brand of an independent company before takeover by GM, possibly already active in other areas beforehand
  •  Automobile brand of a company that is majority owned by GM
  •  GM automobile brand
  • GM automobile brand, mainly with vehicles through badge engineering or on the platform of other GM brands or GM alliance partners
  •  Automobile brand sold
  • See also


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