General Motors is an American multinational automaker headquartered in Detroit, Michigan, the United States, which designs, manufactures, markets and sells cars, light-duty trucks, medium-duty trucks, full-size vans, sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks under the Chevrolet, GMC, Cadillac, Buick, Holden, Opel brands and utilities under the Daewoo, Pontiac and Vauxhall brands.
In 1929, Henry Ford introduced the Model T, making mass production affordable for most people. By 1933, the company had sold more than 2 million units. In 2017, its global revenue was $228 billion US dollars.
The name “GM” originates from the initials “Gilbert Mears”, which stood for the general manager (the position held by Louis Chevrolet). After his death, the company changed its name to the present form.
Although GM was founded in 1908, the first car built by the company was not produced until 1914. From there, the company increased throughout the 1920s, growing to become the largest corporation in the world. However, as automobile technology advanced in the 1930s, the Great Depression hit the company hard, causing management problems.
Starting in 1953, GM moved away from building cars to become one of America’s leading truck and commercial vehicle engines, tractors and farm equipment producers.
During this time, GM began developing its own small family car, the Corvair, which failed to meet safety standards set by the government. In response, Congress passed legislation requiring automakers to produce safer cars—a law known as Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) 209. However, rather than comply with the standards, GM decided to create a “special purpose” vehicle for police use.
Over the following years, GM developed three generations of Police Interceptor Vehicles; each generation would feature a different design. One of these vehicles, the CSPAN, won the 1983 Collier Trophy for “excellence in automotive engineering.”
After the success of the original Camaro in 1969, the Corvette became a much better-selling vehicle. To celebrate its 50th anniversary in 1989, the ZR-1 model was released, featuring an LT4 400ci/390hp 6 cylinder engine, five-speed manual transmission, and limited-slip differential. The performance version of the Corvette continued to receive updates and changes throughout the 1990s and 2000s.
The 2002–2003 second-generation Corvette Coupe featured a removable roof panel, allowing access to the passenger compartment. This increased cargo space while also providing easy access to the rear seats. The convertible version was discontinued after the 2006 model year.
Get to know More!
General Motors produces cars because you love them. It makes them for you, your family, friends, neighbours, and community because you trust GM to make beautiful products that last forever. To support your dreams. To help America grow stronger together.
Today, we’ll look at a few fun facts about General Motors that may surprise you.
First, let’s consider where General Motors came from. In 1908, Henry Ford started his own company. He made Model T Fords. By the time he died in 1947, more than two million Model Ts had been sold. That’s why he’s called “The Father Of The Automobile.” But in 1911, William Durant joined Ford Motor Company. He’d previously worked for Oldsmobile, and when Ford went bankrupt, he took over the business. And that’s how General Motors began.
But General Motors wasn’t the first carmaker. Before Ford, there was Thomas Edison. General Motors used to be named after him–Edison Electric Vehicle Company. But in 1921, his son-in-law formed another company to produce electric vehicles. So, General Motors became known officially as General Motors Corporation. At its peak, General Motors had factories in 40 countries and employed nearly 1.5 million workers. But the Great Depression hit hard. It forced companies across the globe to close their doors. And in 1937, GM closed more than 70 plants in North America alone.
After World War II, the economy recovered, and businesses grew larger and larger. That meant more demand for automobiles. And General Motors responded by building bigger and better cars. Their most giant production plant opened in Flint, Michigan, in 1956. Today, it’s home to 2.1 million square feet of manufacturing space. And it’s one of the largest employers in the area.
In 1959, Chevrolet introduced the Impala. It was the first mass-produced American automobile with front-wheel drive. And it was designed to compete with European luxury models like the Mercedes Benz 300SL. The 1960s were a busy decade for General Motors. They produced some of the most iconic cars ever built, including the Corvair, Chevelle, Nova, and Monte Carlo.
In 1962, Chevrolet introduced the Corvette. It was the world’s first purpose-built sports car. And it was designed by engineers who wanted to build something special. Something they could take on the track or race down the highway. In 1964, the Stingray debuted. It was the fastest production car in the world. It even beat out Formula One racing cars.
By the 1970s, General Motors faced tough competition from Japanese automakers. And they needed to find new ways to stay competitive. So, they developed smaller, lighter, fuel-efficient cars. And they created a new division to develop those cars. It was called the Pontiac Division. And in 1982, they launched what would become one of the best-selling cars of all time: The Trans Am.
General Motors has also continued to evolve throughout the years. In 1984, they released the EV1. It was an electric vehicle that ran on batteries. And it only got about 50 miles per charge. But it was ahead of its time. And it helped pave the way for today’s electric vehicles.
In the final analysis, General Motors has been successful for decades because its employees have believed in an innovative vision that led them to make the right decisions to succeed.
Innovations such as the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, Chevy Volt, Cadillac ATS, CUE infotainment system and Buick LaCrosse have become popular because of GM’s commitment to giving its customers more choices and delivering better customer experiences.
GM’s products have also received accolades for quality and safety, and GM continues to invest heavily in future technologies to fuel innovative automotive development.