Revenue 166.3 billion USD (2016)
|Formerly called General Motors Corporation|
Traded as NYSE: GMS&P 100 ComponentS&P 500 Component
Founded September 16, 1908; 108 years ago (1908-09-16)
Founder William C. DurantCharles Stewart MottFrederic L. Smith
Stock price GM (NYSE) US$ 36.83 0.00 (-0.01%)10 Mar, 4:00 PM GMT-5 - Disclaimer
CEO Mary T. Barra (15 Jan 2014–)
Headquarters Detroit, Michigan, United States
Subsidiaries Chevrolet, Opel, GMC, ACDelco, Oldsmobile, OnStar
The history of general motors from buick cadillac and pontiac to chevrolet
General Motors Company, commonly known as GM, is an American multinational corporation headquartered in Detroit, Michigan, that designs, manufactures, markets, and distributes vehicles and vehicle parts, and sells financial services. With global headquarters at the Renaissance Center in Detroit, Michigan, United States, GM manufactures cars and trucks in 35 countries. In 2008, 8.35 million GM cars and trucks were sold globally under various brands. Current auto brands are Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Holden, and Wuling. Former GM automotive brands include McLaughlin, Oakland, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Hummer, Saab, and Saturn.
- The history of general motors from buick cadillac and pontiac to chevrolet
- Business units
- Chapter 11 bankruptcy
- Corporate governance
- Financial results
- Board of Directors
- North America
- South America
- Research and development
- Small car sales
- Environmental initiatives
- Hybrid electric vehicles
- All electric vehicles
- Battery packs for electric vehicles
- Hydrogen initiative
- Flexible fuel vehicles
- Brand reorganization
- Discontinued brands
- Former subsidiaries
- Current affiliates
- Former affiliates
- Spin offs
- Ralph Nader and the Corvair
- Defective ignition system investigation
The company was founded by William C. Durant on September 16, 1908 as a holding company. The company was the largest automobile manufacturer from 1931 through 2007.
In addition to brands selling assembled vehicles, GM also has had various automotive-component and non-automotive brands, many of which it divested in the 1980s through 2000s. These have included Euclid and Terex (earthmoving/construction/mining equipment & vehicles); Electro-Motive Diesel (locomotive, marine, and industrial diesel engines); Detroit Diesel (automotive and industrial diesel engines); Allison (Aircraft engines,transmissions, gas turbine engines); Frigidaire (Appliances including refrigeration and air conditioning); New Departure (bearings); Delco Electronics and ACDelco (electrical and electronic components); GMAC (finance); General Aviation and North American Aviation (airplanes); GM Defense (military vehicles) and Electronic Data Systems (information technology).
General Motors produces vehicles in 37 countries under twelve brands: Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cadillac, Holden, HSV, Opel, Vauxhall, Wuling, Baojun, Jie Fang, and Ravon.
The current company, General Motors Company LLC ("new GM"), was formed in 2009 following the bankruptcy of General Motors Corporation ("old GM"), which became Motors Liquidation Company. The new company purchased the majority of the assets of the old GM, including the brand "General Motors".
In addition to its twelve brands, General Motors also holds a 20% stake in IMM, and a 77% stake in GM Korea. It also has a number of joint-ventures, including Shanghai GM, SAIC-GM-Wuling and FAW-GM in China, GM-AvtoVAZ in Russia, Ghandhara Industries in Pakistan, GM Uzbekistan, General Motors India, General Motors Egypt, and Isuzu Truck South Africa. General Motors employs 212,000 people and does business in more than 140 countries. General Motors is divided into five business segments: GM North America (GMNA), Opel Group, GM International Operations (GMIO), GM South America (GMSA), and GM Financial.
General Motors led global vehicle sales for 77 consecutive years from 1931 through 2007, longer than any other automaker, and in 2012 was among the world's largest automakers by vehicle unit sales.
General Motors acts in most countries outside the U.S. via wholly owned subsidiaries, but operates in China through 10 joint ventures. GM's OnStar subsidiary provides vehicle safety, security and information services.
In 2009, General Motors shed several brands, closing Saturn, Pontiac, and Hummer, and emerged from a government-backed Chapter 11 reorganization. In 2010, the reorganized GM made an initial public offering that was one of the world's top five largest IPOs to date, and returned to profitability later that year.
General Motors Corporation was formed on September 16, 1908, in Flint, Michigan, as a holding company controlled by William C. Durant, owner of Buick. At the beginning of the 20th century, there were fewer than 8,000 automobiles in America, and Durant had become a leading manufacturer of horse-drawn vehicles in Flint before making his foray into the automotive industry. GM's co-founder was Charles Stewart Mott, whose carriage company was merged into Buick prior to GM's creation. Over the years, Mott became the largest single stockholder in GM, and spent his life with his Mott Foundation, which has benefited the city of Flint, his adopted home. GM acquired Oldsmobile later that year. In 1909, Durant brought in Cadillac, Elmore, Oakland, and several others. Also in 1909, GM acquired the Reliance Motor Truck Company of Owosso, Michigan, and the Rapid Motor Vehicle Company of Pontiac, Michigan, the predecessors of GMC Truck. Durant, along with R. S. McLaughlin, lost control of GM in 1910 to a bankers' trust, because of the large amount of debt taken on in its acquisitions, coupled with a collapse in new vehicle sales.
The next year, Durant started the Chevrolet Motor Car Company in the U.S., and in Canada in 1915, and through this, he secretly purchased a controlling interest in GM. Durant took back control of the company after one of the most dramatic proxy wars in American business history. Durant then reorganized General Motors Company into General Motors Corporation in 1916, merging Chevrolet with GM and merging General Motors of Canada Limited as an ally in 1918. Shortly thereafter, he again lost control, this time for good, after the new vehicle market collapsed. Alfred P. Sloan was picked to take charge of the corporation, and led it to its post-war global dominance when the seven manufacturing facilities operated by Chevrolet before GM acquired the company began to contribute to GM operations. These facilities were added to the individual factories that were exclusive to Cadillac, Buick, Oldsmobile, Oakland, and other companies acquired by GM. This unprecedented growth of GM would last into the early 1980s, when it employed 349,000 workers and operated 150 assembly plants.
Chapter 11 bankruptcy
On June 1, 2009, after heavy losses, General Motors went bankrupt. Stockholders lost essentially all of their investment.
On July 10, 2009, General Motors emerged from government backed Chapter 11 reorganization after an initial filing on June 8, 2009. Through the Troubled Asset Relief Program the US Treasury invested billion in General Motors and recovered billion when it sold its shares on December 9, 2013 resulting in a loss of billion. The Treasury invested an additional billion into GM's former financing company, GMAC (now Ally). The shares in Ally were sold on December 18, 2014 for billion netting billion. A study by the Center for Automotive Research found that the GM bailout saved 1.2 million jobs and preserved billion in tax revenue.
Also in 2009 as part General Motors Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, the company shed several brands, closing Saturn, Pontiac, and Hummer, while selling Saab Automobile to Dutch automaker Spyker, and emerged from a government-backed Chapter 11 reorganization. In 2010, the reorganized GM made an initial public offering that was one of the world's top five largest IPOs to date and returned to profitability later that year.
Based on global sales, General Motors is routinely among the world's largest automakers. Headquartered at the Renaissance Center in Detroit, GM employs approximately 202,000 people around the world. In 2009, General Motors sold 6.5 million cars and trucks globally; in 2010, it sold 8.4 million.
As of March 2017, Mary Barra is the chief executive officer (CEO) and chairman of the board and Daniel Ammann is the president. The head of design, Edward T. Welburn, was the first African American to lead a global automotive design organization, and as of 2014 the highest ranking African American in the US motor industry.
As part of the company's advertising, Ed Whitacre announced the company's 60-day money-back guarantee and repayment of billion loan from government ahead of schedule. On December 12, 2013, GM announced that Mary Barra, 51, executive vice president, Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain, was elected by the board of directors to become the next CEO of the company succeeding Dan Akerson on January 15, 2014. Barra also joined the GM board. From June 2009 to March 2011, the company had three chief executive officers and three chief financial officers.
The company has reported annual profits since 2010. It can carry forward previous losses to reduce tax liability on future earnings. It earned billion in 2010. The Wall Street Journal estimated the tax break, including credits for costs related to pensions and other expenses can be worth as much as billion over the next 20 years.
In 2010, General Motors ranked second on the list with 8.5 million units produced globally. In 2011, GM returned to the first place with 9.025 million units sold worldwide, corresponding to 11.9% market share of the global motor vehicle industry. The top two markets in 2011 were China, with 2,547,203 units, and the United States, with 2,503,820 vehicles sold. The Chevrolet brand was the main contributor to GM performance, with 4.76 million vehicles sold around the world in 2011, a global sales record.
In May 2013 during a commencement speech, CEO Dan Akerson suggested that GM was on the cusp of rejoining the S&P 500 index. GM was removed from the index as it approached bankruptcy in 2009.
On April 24, 2014, CNNMoney reported that GM profits fell to million for the first three months of 2014. GM now estimates the cost of their 2014 recall due to faulty ignition switches, which have been linked to at least 13 deaths, at billion. Shares of GM were down 16% for the year before the new announcement of GM's lower profits.
On January 4, 2016, Fortune reported that GM led a bn equity financing in the transportation network company (TNC) Lyft.com. This was GM's first investment in the ride-sharing ecosystem and its reported participation () in the round is considered to be indicative of its efforts towards the future of driving, which it believes will be "connected, seamless and autonomous".
Board of Directors
As of February 2017:
In a filing before the Superior Court of Ontario (Canada), General Motors Canada is a privately owned Canadian company with the corporation as indirect parent. The employees are not all Canadian, as some salaried personnel are from the U.S. and work for the corporation. GM products focus primarily on its four core divisions – Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick, and GMC. The GM restructuring has resulted in a lower break even point for annual sales and renewed profits.
In the mid-2005, GM announced that its corporate chrome power emblem "Mark of Excellence" would begin appearing on all recently introduced and all-new 2006 model vehicles produced and sold in North America. However, in 2009 the "New GM" reversed this, saying that emphasis on its four core divisions would downplay the GM logo.
GM typically reports as among the largest auto makers in the United States. In May 2012, GM recorded an 18.4% market share in the U.S.
In 2008 the third largest individual country by sales was Brazil with some 550,000 GM vehicles sold. In that year the other South American countries Argentina, Colombia, and Venezuela sold another 300,000 GM vehicles, suggesting that the total GM sales in South America (including sales in other South American countries such as Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, etc.) in that year were at a similar level to sales in China.
Opel is the main GM brand name in Europe except in the United Kingdom, where Opel's British subsidiary, Vauxhall, still uses its own "Vauxhall" brand name. The Chevrolet brand was reintroduced in Europe in 2005, selling mostly South-Korean made small cars. In 2012, PSA Peugeot Citroen and General Motors formed an alliance, which involved General Motors acquiring seven percent of PSA Group.
On December 13, 2013, GM announced it had divested itself of its seven percent ownership of PSA Group, generating "gross proceeds of billion." Also in December 2013, GM announced it would drop the Chevrolet brand in Europe by Q4 2015, to focus on Opel/Vauxhall. Chevrolets will continue to be sold in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States. GM lost approximately B over the past 12 years in Europe. Though on 14 February 2017 PSA consider in taking over all Opel Business from GM, after GM reported a loss of 267 millions from its European operations on 2016, sixteenth consecutive loss-making year for GM in Europe, bringing its amount losses on the continent since 2000 to more than 15 billions. On 06 March 2017 was confirmed the sell of Opel, Vauxhall and GM Financial due bank BNP Paribas for $2.3 billion.
The company manufactures most of its China market vehicles locally. Shanghai GM, a joint venture with the Chinese company SAIC Motor, was created on March 25, 1997. The Shanghai GM plant was officially opened on December 15, 1998, when the first Chinese-built Buick came off the assembly line. The SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile joint-venture is also successfully selling microvans under the Wuling brand (34 percent owned by GM). Much of General Motors' recent growth has been in the People's Republic of China, where its sales rose 66.9 percent in 2009, selling 1,830,000 vehicles and accounting for 13.4 percent of the market.
Buick is strong in China, being led by the Buick Excelle subcompact. The last emperor of China owned a Buick. The Cadillac brand was introduced in China in 2004, starting with exports to China. GM pushed the marketing of the Chevrolet brand in China in 2005 as well, transferring Buick Sail to that brand.
In August 2009 the joint venture of FAW GM Light Duty Commercial Vehicle Co Ltd was formed that mainly produces Jiefang light-duty trucks.
General Motors vehicle sales in China rose 28.8 percent to a record 2,351,610 units in 2010. GM set up an auto research center as part of a million corporate campus in Shanghai to develop 'gasoline-hybrid cars, electric vehicles and alternative fuels, engines and new technologies'. The company plans to double its sales from 2010 to about 5 million units in China by 2015.
SAIC-GM-Wuling established the low-cost Baojun brand to better compete with domestic rivals, Chery, Geely and BYD for first-time buyers of cars priced around It is estimated that such market in China is about 5 million vehicles a year, larger than the auto market in France and Britain combined. However, some are worried that 'local brands like Baojun could eventually become threats to their parent brands if they compete more against established models over time'. Shanghai-GM-Wuling sold 1.23 million vehicles in 2010, mainly commercial vans and trucks, of which about 700,000 units were a van called Sunshine.
GM maintains a dealership presence in Japan, called GM Chevrolet Shop, previously known as GM Auto World Shop. Current GM Japan dealerships were either former Saturn dealerships or Isuzu dealership locations. GM products are also currently sold by the company Yanase Co., Ltd. since 1915.
In August 2011, GM announced plans to reactivate its plant that previously produced rebadged Chevrolet Blazer as Opel as well as Brazilian Blazer, and also build a new plant in Bekasi, West Java, Indonesia, which would produce 40,000 passenger cars per year for the Southeast Asian market. It is the third plant in Southeast Asia, after the Rayong plant, Thailand, and the Hanoi plant, Vietnam.
In October 2011, the South Korea Free Trade Agreement opened up the South Korean auto market to American made cars. GM owns (per December 31, 2011) 77.0% of its joint venture in South Korea, GM Korea.
On March 11, 2013, GM opened a new 190,300 square-foot manufacturing plant in Bekasi, Indonesia. In February 2015, GM announced they will close the Bekasi plant by the end of June and stop production of the Sonic in Thailand by mid-year.
GM has a long history in Egypt which began in the 1920s with the assembly of cars and light pickup trucks for the local market. In the mid of the 1950s, GM withdrew from the Egyptian market. Some years later, the Ghabbour Brothers began to assemble Cadillac, Chevrolet and Buick models up to the 1990s.
Since 1983 GM and Al-Monsour Automotive Company have owned General Motors Egypt, which is currently the only manufacturer of traditional GM branded vehicles in Egypt.
Following the passage of the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act in 1986, GM was forced to divest from South Africa, and GMSA became the independent Delta Motor Corporation. GM purchased a 49% stake in Delta in 1997 following the end of apartheid, and acquired the remaining 51% in 2004, reverting the company to its original name. The company began operating in South Africa in 1913 through its wholly owned subsidiary, General Motors South Africa. By 2014 it was targeting the production of 50,000 cars a year but was being hampered by national labour unrest, strikes and protests.
Another manufacturing base of the GM for the African markets is the Industries Mécaniques Maghrébines headquartered in Kairouan, Tunisia, which assembles Isuzu and Mazda models for the Maghreb region. General Motors East Africa (GMEA) located in Nairobi, Kenya assembles a wide range of Isuzu trucks and buses including the popular Isuzu N-Series versatile light commercial vehicle, TF Series pick-ups and Isuzu bus chassis. Formed in 1975, GMEA's facility is the largest assembler of commercial vehicles in the region exporting to East and Central African countries including Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Rwanda and Burundi. In addition to assembly, GMEA also markets the Chevrolet products Spark and Optra.
In the 1920s Miller Brothers Nigeria was founded as an importer of commercial vehicles of the Bedford brand into the country. In 1949, the company opened its own assembly plant and operated under the name Niger/Nigeria Motors. In 1965 the plant and its distribution network was split into different companies and renamed as Federated Motors Industries. In 1991 the company was taken in by a joint venture between General Motors and UACN of Nigeria.
In Australia GM has been represented by the Holden brand since 1948, GM having acquired the company in 1931. In 2012, GM Opel cars began to be imported into Australia as a niche marque under their own brand name. However, as of August 2013, GM has made the decision to remove the Opel brand from Australia noting poor adoption and sales.
In New Zealand GM was represented by Chevrolet, Pontiac and Vauxhall cars all locally-assembled since 1926. Fully imported Holdens appeared in 1954, NZ assembly of Holdens begun in 1957 was slowly phased in through the early 1960s to replace most Vauxhall and all Chevrolet cars. Thirty years ahead of Australia tariff protection was removed and local assembly plants closed in 1984 and 1990. GM became a national sales company and a parts distribution centre. In the early 1990s General Motors New Zealand did sell a few Isuzu and Opel cars rebranded Holdens in 1994 when New Zealand's GM was renamed Holden.
On December 10, 2013, GM announced that Holden would cease engine and vehicle manufacturing operations in Australia by the end of 2017. Beyond 2017 Holden's Australian presence will consist of: a national sales company, a parts distribution centre and, a global design studio.
GM has participated over the years in the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC), 24 Hours of Le Mans, NASCAR, SCCA, Supercars Championship, and many other world venues.
GM's engines were highly successful in the Indy Racing League (IRL) throughout the 1990s, winning many races in the small V-8 class. GM has also done much work in the development of electronics for GM auto racing. An unmodified Aurora V-8 in the Aerotech, captured 47 world records, including the record for speed endurance in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. Recently, the Cadillac V-Series has entered motorsports racing.
GM has also used many cars in the American racing series NASCAR. Currently the Chevrolet SS is the only entry in the series, but in the past the Pontiac Grand Prix, Buick Regal, Oldsmobile Cutlass, Chevrolet Lumina, Chevrolet Malibu and the Chevrolet Monte Carlo were also used. GM has won a total of 40 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series manufacturer's championships, including 34 with Chevrolet, the most of any make in NASCAR history, 3 with Oldsmobile, 2 with Buick, and 1 with Pontiac. GM leads all other automobile manufacturers in races won in NASCAR's premier series at 1,011. Chevrolet leads individual makes with 677 wins.
In Australia, there is the V8 Supercar Championship which is battled out by the two main rivals of (GM) Holden and Ford. The current Holden Racing Team cars are based on the Holden Commodore and run a 5.0-litre V8-cylinder engine producing 635 bhp (474 kW). These cars have a top speed of 298 km/h (185 mph) and run 0–100 km/h in 3.8 seconds. The Holden Racing Team is Australia's most successful team in Australian touring car history. In 2006 and 2007, the Drivers championship was won by the very closely linked (now defunct) HSV Dealer Team.
Research and development
Research and development (R&D) at General Motors began organically as the continuation of such R&D as the various divisions (e.g., Cadillac, Buick, Olds, Oakland) were already doing for themselves before the merger. Its character was entirely empirical; it was whatever key people in each company had been competent enough to organize and pursue. R. S. McLaughlin's Carriage Company in 1876 was designing and inventing Carriage Gear. The McLaughlin Companies became General Motors of Canada Limited. Charles F. Kettering's Dayton Engineering Laboratories Company (Delco), at Dayton, Ohio, was still an independent firm at this time. Its work was well known to GM central management through its relationship as a supplier and consultancy to Cadillac and Buick.
In 1916, Durant organized the United Motors Corporation as an amalgamation of parts suppliers, supplying GM and other OEMs but independent of GM. Alfred P. Sloan, head of the newly acquired Hyatt Roller Bearing Corporation, became United Motors' CEO. United Motors acquired Delco, and Kettering began his association with Sloan. United Motors also acquired at this time the original Remy corporation (called the Remy Electric Company), a competitor of Delco. In 1918 General Motors bought United Motors. Various entities grew out of the original Delco and Remy, including the Dayton Metal Products Corporation, the General Motors Research Corporation, the Delco Division and Remy Electric Division of GM, Delco Remy (now Remy International, Inc.), ACDelco, Delco Electronics, and others. Today's main successor corporation is Delphi Automotive, which nowadays is an independent parent corporation.
The General Motors Research Corporation, at Dayton under Kettering, became a true automotive research center. During the next few decades it led the development of:
Although GM R&D (as it is known in colloquial shorthand) began as an organization largely built around one man (Kettering), it eventually evolved into a more modern organization whose path is shaped by individuals but not dominated entirely by any of them. World War II was a turning point wherein military affairs, after mingling with the technologies of applied science for some 80 years, first started to become fundamentally reinvented by them. Civilian life, too, changed in this direction. By the 1950s, corporations such as GM and many others were facing a new era of R&D, different from earlier ones. Less about genius inventors and individual inventions, and more about organizational progress and integrated systems, it raised new questions about where the capital for R&D would come from in an era of limitless demand for R&D (although not necessarily for production). Alfred Sloan, longtime CEO of GM (1920s to 1960s), discussed in his memoir (also considered a seminal management treatise) the relationships between government, academia, and private industry in the areas of basic science and applied science, in light of this new era. The views he laid out reflected (and influenced) wide consensus on these relationships that persists largely to today.
Today, GM R&D, headquartered in Warren, Michigan, is a network of six laboratories, six science offices, and collaborative relationships in over twelve countries including working relationships with universities, government groups, suppliers, and other partners from across the globe.
On September 7, 2014, at the Intelligent Transport Systems World Congress in Detroit GM disclosed it would be introducing auto-pilot features into certain 2017 models of its cars, which would go on sale in 2016. The "super cruise" or vehicle-to-vehicle V2V technology is likely to be first introduced to the Cadillac range, enabling drivers to switch in and out of semi-automated mode. In December 2016, General Motors announced it would begin testing self-driving vehicles on public roads in Michigan, after Gov. Rick Snyder signed a package of bills legalizing the operation of autonomous vehicles.
In March 2016, General Motors bought Cruise Automation, a San Francisco self-driving vehicle start-up, to develop self-driving cars that could be used in ride-sharing fleets.
Small car sales
From the 1920s onward, General Motors always maintained an internal dialog about what its economy-car and small-car policies should be. The economy and size considerations often naturally overlapped, although a strong distinction was always drawn in the 20th century between policies for the U.S. market and policies for other markets. Economy (in some form) always had good demand anywhere, but its definition in the U.S. was long considered different from that in other markets. In this view, "economy" in the U.S. did not mean "small" in the sense of what qualified as "small" outside the U.S. The policy discussion often focused on topics like the higher demand for truly small cars in non-U.S. markets than in the U.S., and whether it made more sense to import a car into a certain country or to build it domestically within that country, either as some variant of knockdown or with truly extensive domestic sourcing. GM's acquisitions of Vauxhall Motors Ltd (UK, 1925) and Adam Opel AG (Germany, 1929), rather than starting new domestic companies to compete against them, were based on analyses that convinced GM managers that acquiring an existing domestic manufacturer was a better business decision.
Although GM since the 1920s has always offered economy models in the U.S. market (relative to that market's definition in any given decade), and had done research and development in the 1940s and 1950s in preparation for any potential rise of strong demand for truly small cars in the U.S. market, it has also been criticized over the decades for not doing enough to promote fuel efficiency in the U.S. market in the 1970s through 1990s. GM's response has been that it has always responded to market demands, and that most Americans, despite anything they said to the contrary, did not actually demand (at purchasing-decision time) small size or fuel efficiency in their vehicles to any great or lasting extent. Although some U.S. consumers flocked temporarily to the ideal of fuel economy whenever fuel supply crises arose (such as 1973 and 1979), they flocked equally enthusiastically to SUVs when cheap fuel of the 1980s and 1990s temporarily shielded them from any downside to these choices.
Since the return of high fuel prices in the 2000s and 2010s, GM's interest in truly small-car programs for the U.S. market has been renewed. As part of General Motors Company development, GM revived one of its idled U.S. factories for the production of a small car in Orion, Michigan, with the creation of 1,200 American jobs. This will be the first time ever that a large manufacturer produces a supermini vehicle in the United States. This retooled plant will be capable of building 160,000 cars annually, including both small and compact vehicles. Production started in late 2011 with the Chevrolet Sonic.
General Motors has published principles regarding the environment and maintains an extensive website to inform the public. In 2008, General Motors committed to engineering half of its manufacturing plants to be landfill-free. In order to achieve its landfill-free status, production waste is recycled or reused in the manufacturing process.
The world's largest rooftop solar power installation was installed at General Motors Spanish Zaragoza Manufacturing Plant in fall 2008. The Zaragoza solar installation has about 2,000,000 square feet (190,000 m2) of roof at the plant and contains about 85,000 solar panels. The installation was created, owned and operated by Veolia Environment and Clairvoyant Energy, who lease the rooftop area from General Motors. In 2011, General Motors also invested million in solar-panel provider Sunlogics, which will install solar panels on GM facilities.
GM has long worked on alternative-technology vehicles, and has led the industry with ethanol-burning flexible-fuel vehicles that can run on either E85 (ethanol) or gasoline. The company was the first to use turbochargers and was an early proponent of V6 engines in the 1960s, but quickly lost interest as muscle car popularity increased. They demonstrated gas turbine vehicles powered by kerosene, an area of interest throughout the industry, but abandoned the alternative engine configuration in view of the 1973 oil crisis. In the 1970s and 1980s, GM pushed the benefits of diesel engines and cylinder deactivation technologies with disastrous results due to poor durability in the Oldsmobile diesels and drivability issues in the Cadillac V8-6-4 variable-cylinder engines. In 1987, GM, in conjunction with AeroVironment, built the Sunraycer, which won the inaugural World Solar Challenge and was a showcase of advanced technology. Much of the technology from Sunraycer found its way into the Impact prototype electric vehicle (also built by Aerovironment) and was the predecessor to the General Motors EV1.
GM supported a compromise version of the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard increase from 27 to 35 mpg‑US (8.7 to 6.7 L/100 km; 32 to 42 mpg‑imp), the first such increase in over 20 years. GM announced they will introduce more Volt-based plug-in hybrids.
Hybrid electric vehicles
In May 2004, GM delivered the world's first full-sized hybrid pickups, the 1/2-ton Silverado/Sierra. These mild hybrids did not use electrical energy for propulsion, like GM's later designs. In 2005, the Opel Astra diesel Hybrid concept vehicle was introduced. The 2006 Saturn Vue Green Line was the first hybrid passenger vehicle from GM and is also a mild design. GM has hinted at new hybrid technologies to be employed that will be optimized for higher speeds in freeway driving.
GM currently offers the 2-mode hybrid system used by the Chevrolet Tahoe/GMC Yukon/Cadillac Escalade, and GM 1/2 half-ton pickups and will later be used on other vehicles.
Within the framework of its vehicle electrification strategy, GM introduced the Chevrolet Volt in 2010, an electric vehicle with back-up generators powered by gasoline. The production Chevrolet Volt was available in late 2010 as a 2011 model with limited availability. GM delivered the first Volt during December 2010.
The GM Magic Bus is a hybrid-powered bus.
General Motors was the first company (in the modern era) to release an all-electric automobile. In 1990, GM debuted the "Impact" concept car at the Los Angeles Auto Show. It was the first car with zero-emissions marketed in the US in over three decades. The Impact was eventually produced as the EV1 for the 1996 model year. It was available through dealers located in only a few regions (e.g., California, Arizona, Georgia). Vehicles were leased, rather than sold, to individuals. In 1999 GM decided to cease production of the vehicles. When the individual leases had expired, they declined to renew the leases or allow the lessors to purchase them. All of the EV1s were eventually returned to General Motors and, with the exception of a few which were donated to museums, all were destroyed. The documentary film Who Killed the Electric Car? covered the EV1 story.
The EV1's cancellation had disappointed supporters of electric vehicles. In 2010, GM debuted the Chevrolet Volt, an plug-in hybrid electric vehicle with back-up generators powered by gasoline (range-extended electric vehicle). General Motors has announced that it is building a prototype two-seat electric vehicle with Segway. An early prototype of the Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility vehicle—dubbed Project P.U.M.A. – was presented in New York at the 2009 New York International Auto Show.
In October 2011, General Motors announced the production of the Chevrolet Spark EV, an all-electric version of the third generation Chevrolet Spark, with availability limited to select U.S. and global markets. In October 2012, GM Korea announced it will start making and selling the Spark EV domestically in 2013. The production version was unveiled at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show. Within the framework of GM's vehicle electrification strategy, the Spark EV is the first all-electric passenger car marketed by General Motors in the U.S. since the EV1 was discontinued in 1999. The Spark EV was released in the U.S. in selected markets in California and Oregon in June 2013. Retail sales began in South Korea in October 2013. GM also plans to sell the Spark EV in limited quantities in Canada and select European markets.
GM began production of the Chevrolet Bolt EV in October 2016, the first ever affordable mass market all-electric car with a range of more than 200 miles (320 km). Deliveries in California are scheduled to begin in late 2016. The vehicle will be launched in all 50 US states and analysts expect it to sell around 30,000 units per year, though GM itself has not confirmed these estimates. The battery pack and most drivetrain components are built by LG and assembled in GM's Lake Orion plant.
Battery packs for electric vehicles
GM builds battery packs in southern Michigan. GM also established an automotive battery laboratory in Michigan. GM will be responsible for battery management systems and power electronics, thermal management, as well as the pack assembly. An existing GM facility at Brownstown Township was chosen to be upgraded as battery pack plant. LG Chem's U.S. subsidiary, Compact Power of Troy, Michigan, has been building the prototype packs for the development vehicles and will continue to provide integration support and act as a liaison for the program.
The 1966 GM Electrovan is credited with being the first hydrogen fuel cell car ever produced. Though fuel cells have been around since the early 1800s, General Motors was the first to use a fuel cell to power the wheels of a vehicle. The economic feasibility of the technically challenging hydrogen car, and the low-cost production of hydrogen to fuel it, has also been discussed by other automobile manufacturers such as Ford and Chrysler. In June 2007, Larry Burns, vice president of research and development, said he's not yet willing to say exactly when hydrogen vehicles will be mass-produced, but he said it should happen before 2020, the year many experts have predicted. He said "I sure would be disappointed if we weren't there" before 2020.
On July 2, 2013, GM and Honda announced a partnership to develop fuel cell systems and hydrogen storage technologies for the 2020 time frame. GM and Honda are leaders in fuel cell technology, ranking No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in total fuel cell patents filed between 2002 and 2012, with more than 1,200 between them according to the Clean Energy Patent Growth Index.
GM produces several flexible-fuel vehicles that can operate on E85 ethanol fuel or gasoline, or any blend of both. Since 2006 GM started featuring a bright yellow gas cap to remind drivers of the E85 capabilities.
GM is the leader in E85 flex fuel vehicles, with over 6 million FlexFuel vehicles on the road in the U.S. In 2010, GM pledged to have more than half of their annual vehicle production be E85 or biodiesel capable by 2012. As of 2012, GM offers 20 ethanol-enabled FlexFuel cars and trucks in the US, and offers more FlexFuel vehicles models than any other automaker.
Since 1994, General Motors has donated over million in cash and vehicles to the Nature Conservancy, and funding from GM supports many conservation projects.
In 1996, GMC partnered with the fashion industry as a part of the GM/CFDA Concept: Cure, a collaboration between General Motors and the Fashion industry bringing awareness to and raising funds for breast cancer. The program involved 5 designers, each lending their artistic talents to customize 5 different vehicles. Nicole Miller, Richard Tyler, Anna Sui, Todd Oldham and Mark Eisen were tasked with transforming a Cadillac STS, Buick Riviera, GMC Yukon, Oldsmobile Bravada and Chevrolet Camaro Z28, respectively. The cars were then auctioned with the proceeds presented to the Nina Hyde Center at the Greater Los Angeles Auto Show in 1997.
Since 1997, the GM Foundation has been a source of funding for Safe Kids USA's "Safe Kids Buckle Up" program, a national initiative to ensure child automobile safety through education and inspection.
Through 2002, the PACE Awards program, led by GM, EDS, and SUN Microsystems, has given over billion of in-kind contributions which includes computers to over 18 universities to support engineering education. In 2009, the GM led group has helped the Pace Awards program worldwide.
In 2004, GM gave in cash contributions and in-kind donations to charitable causes.
The General Motors Foundation (GM Foundation) receives philanthropic bequests from General Motors. It is a 501(c)(3) foundation incorporated in 1976.
As it emerged from bankruptcy and company reorganization in 2010, GM reorganized the content and structure of its brand portfolio (its brand architecture). Some nameplates like Pontiac, Saturn, Hummer, and service brands like Goodwrench were discontinued. Others, like Saab, were sold. The practice of putting the "GM Mark of Excellence" on every car, no matter what the brand, was discontinued in August 2009. The company has moved from a corporate-endorsed hybrid brand architecture structure, where GM underpinned every brand to a multiple brand corporate invisible brand architecture structure. The company's familiar square blue "badge" has been removed from the Web site and advertising, in favor of a new, subtle all-text logo treatment on its U.S. site; the Canadian site still retains the blue "badge". In 2011, GM discontinued the Daewoo brand in South Korea and replaced it with the Chevrolet brand.
GM describes their brand politics as having "two brands" which "will drive our global growth. They are Chevrolet, which embodies the qualities of value, reliability, performance and expressive design; and Cadillac, which creates luxury vehicles that are provocative and powerful. At the same time, the Holden, Buick, GMC, Baojun, Opel and Vauxhall brands are being carefully cultivated to satisfy as many customers as possible in select regions."
(Note on dates: the dates below are the years each brand existed, which are not always the same as the dates they were part of GM.)
Ralph Nader and the Corvair
Unsafe at Any Speed by Ralph Nader, published in 1965, is a pioneering book accusing car manufacturers of being slow to introduce safety features, and reluctant to spend money on improving safety. The subject for which the book is probably most widely known, the rear-engined GM Chevrolet Corvair, is covered in the first chapter. It relates to the first (1960–1964) models that had a swing-axle suspension design which was prone to "tuck under" in certain circumstances. In substitution for the cost-cutting lack of a front stabilizer bar (anti-roll bar), Corvairs required tire pressures which were outside of the tire manufacturer's recommended tolerances. The Corvair relied on an unusually high front to rear pressure differential (15psi front, 26psi rear, when cold; 18 psi and 30psi hot), and if one inflated the tires equally, as was standard practice for all other cars at the time, the result was a dangerous oversteer.
In early March 1966, several media outlets, including The New Republic and The New York Times, reported that GM had tried to discredit Ralph Nader, hiring private detectives to tap his phones and investigate his past, and hiring prostitutes to trap him in compromising situations. Nader sued the company for invasion of privacy and settled the case for Nader's lawsuit against GM was ultimately decided by the New York Court of Appeals, whose opinion in the case expanded tort law to cover "overzealous surveillance". Nader used the proceeds from the lawsuit to start the pro-consumer Center for Study of Responsive Law.
A 1972 safety commission report conducted by Texas A&M University concluded that the 1960–1963 Corvair possessed no greater potential for loss of control than its contemporary competitors in extreme situations. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) issued a press release in 1972 describing the findings of NHTSA testing from the previous year. NHTSA had conducted a series of comparative tests in 1971 studying the handling of the 1963 Corvair and four contemporary cars—a Ford Falcon, Plymouth Valiant, Volkswagen Beetle, and Renault Dauphine—along with a second-generation Corvair (with its completely redesigned, independent rear suspension). The 143-page report reviewed NHTSA's extreme-condition handling tests, national crash-involvement data for the cars in the test as well as General Motors' internal documentation regarding the Corvair's handling. NHTSA went on to contract an independent advisory panel of engineers to review the tests. This review panel concluded that "the 1960–63 Corvair compares favorably with contemporary vehicles used in the tests [...] the handling and stability performance of the 1960–63 Corvair does not result in an abnormal potential for loss of control or rollover, and it is at least as good as the performance of some contemporary vehicles both foreign and domestic."
Former GM executive John DeLorean asserted in his book On a Clear Day You Can See General Motors that Nader's criticisms were valid.
Journalist David E. Davis, in a 2009 article in Automobile Magazine, noted that despite Nader's claim that swing-axle rear suspension were dangerous, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, and Volkswagen all used similar swing-axle concepts during that era.
Defective ignition system investigation
In May 2014 the NHTSA fined the company million for failing to recall cars with faulty ignition switches for a decade, despite knowing there was a problem with the switches. Thirteen deaths were attributed to the faulty switches during the time the company failed to recall the cars. The million fine was the maximum the regulator could impose. Congress is considering increasing the maximum fines the regulator can impose from million to million. General Motors has announced that they are also facing 79 customer lawsuits asking for as much as billion for economic losses attributed to the recall. As well as the Cobalts, the switches of concern had been installed in many other cars, such as the Pontiac G5, the Saturn Ion, the Chevrolet HHR, the Saturn Sky, and Pontiac Solstice. Eventually the recall involved about 2.6 million GM cars worldwide.