How General Motors Has Evolved Over the Last Century

How General Motors Has Evolved Over the Last Century

General Motors is one of the largest car manufacturing companies in the world. It’s a company with a long tradition, founded in 1908, in Flint, Michigan, by William C. Durant, the Buick chief executive. In addition, he bought Olds Motor Works, Oakland Motor Car and Cadillac. Today, it owns several brands, including Vauxhall, Cadillac, Buick, Chevrolet, GMC, and Opel.

One year after it was founded, General Motors managed to sell 25,000 vehicles, and demand started growing even more in 1910, so another assembly plant was added to the Oldsmobile factory in Lansing. In 1911 they made the Oldsmobile Limited, one of the first luxury vehicles in the world, costing $5,000. In 1918, GM acquired Chevrolet, and the first Chevrolet after the acquisition was Chevrolet 490.


In 1925, GM made another acquisition, purchasing Vauxhall of England, and in 1929, another European brand, Germany’s Opel. It was during that period when GM started becoming a major player in the car making industry.


General Motors had a huge growth in the early 1940s, when it got to a 41% market share. Oldsmobile created the Hydra-matic automatic transmission, which helped boost sales. However, GM faced a lot of troubles in the following years, when they had to start producing cannons, shells and airplane parts, to help the country’s wartime efforts. Understandably, it was a huge blow to their plans to grow even further and develop new models.


After World War II ended, GM made some serious efforts to get back on track, offering a couple of great innovations in their cars, such as the first air condition system in a car, on one of their Cadillacs, as well as the high-powered rocket engine, which got the company to a 54% market share.

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During the 1960s, GM produced one of its least successful vehicles, the Chevrolet Corvair, which was considered to be very unsafe and even lead to congressional hearings on car safety.


In the next couple of decades, GM purchased Electronic Data Systems Corp and formed a joint venture with Toyota, which increased earnings to $4.5 billion. Until the early 1990s, revenues and earnings revolved around these numbers, with slight fluctuations. Then, in 1991, it lost a record $4.4 billion, and announced it will close 21 plants and cut several thousands jobs. During this decade, GM was heavily criticized of not being able to implement innovative technology in their vehicles, and by 1999, its market share dropped to 30%.


The beginning of the 21 century was especially troublesome for GM. It faced workers strikes, problems with unused tax credits, making it lose $38 billion in 2007. Rising health care costs,  the incredible growth their competitors had, and the economic crisis in America, and all over the world, lead to hugely decreased sales and thousands of employees being fired.


However, it seems like GM is going to get its former glory back, along with some other big guns like Chrysler.  Thanks to the economic recovery of U.S. and Canada, the fact it was able to establish a good presence in the world’s largest automotive market, China, and the crisis that Toyota, one of their greatest competitors, faced in the past couple of years.

Author: Jordan Perch is an active promoter of the new developments in the automotive industry. He is an author of many how-to articles related to safe driving, buying/selling vehicles, auto insurance etc. He is currently managing the blog of the resourceful Follow him on Google+.

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Boris Dzhingarov graduated University of National and World Economy with major marketing. He has deep knowledge in SEO and Blog management. He loves to write finance and business related articles as well.

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