General Motors Corporation (GM) is a multinational automobile manufacturer founded in 1908 and headquartered in the United States. GM is the world's second largest automaker as measured by global industry sales. As of 2008, General Motors employs about 266,000 people around the world. It manufactures its cars and trucks in 35 different countries and sells them under the brands of Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GM Daewoo, GMC, Holden, Hummer, Opel, Pontiac, Saab, Saturn, Vauxhall, and Wuling. As of 2008, General Motors is the ninth largest publicly traded company in the world (ranked by revenue on the Fortune Global 500 list.) In recent years the company has endured significant financial turmoil, including a 38 billion dollar loss in 2007.
It was revealed on October 10th, 2008 that GM may exchange its remaining 49% stake in GMAC to Cerberus Capital Management for Chrysler LLC, potentially merging two of Detroit's "Big Three" automakers.
GM parts and accessories are sold under GM Performance Parts, GM Goodwrench and ACDelco brands through GM Service and Parts Operations which supplies GM dealerships and distributors worldwide. GM engines and transmissions are marketed through GM Powertrain. GM's largest national market is the United States, followed by China, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Germany. GM owns nearly-half (49%) of the finance company GMAC Financial Services, which offers automotive, residential and commercial financing and insurance. GM's OnStar subsidiary is a vehicle safety, security and information service provider.
There have only been a limited number of models bearing the General Motors brand. The GM EV1 was an electric vehicle introduced in the 1990s but was later discontinued. The GM Sequel was a hydrogen fuel cell concept vehicle introduced in 2005, however the name was later changed to Chevrolet Sequel. Along with various concept vehicles, the Holden Statesman (1971 - 1985) was originally marketed as the General Motors Statesman.
General Motors (GM) was founded on September 16, 1908 in Flint, Michigan, as a holding company for Buick, then controlled by William C. Durant, and acquired Oldsmobile later that year. The next year, Durant brought in Cadillac, Elmore, Oakland (later known as Pontiac) and several others. In 1909, General Motors acquired the Reliance Motor Truck Company of Owosso, Michigan, and the Rapid Motor Vehicle Company of Pontiac, Michigan, the predecessors of GMC Truck. Durant 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. A few years later, Durant would start the Chevrolet Motor car company 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. Shortly after, he again lost control for good after the new vehicle market collapsed. Alfred Sloan was picked to take charge of the corporation and led it to its post war global dominance. This unprecedented growth of GM would last through the late 70's and into the early 80's.
The General Motors Aftermarket Business in the US manages four brands; Goodwrench, ACDelco, GM Performance Parts and GM Accessories. GM Aftersales operates globally.
Current members of the board of Directors of General Motors are: Percy Barnevik, Erskine Bowles, John Bryan, Armando Codina, Erroll Davis, George Fisher, Mark Guildenstern, Karen Katen, Kent Kresa, Ellen J. Kullman, Philip Laskawy, Kathryn V. Marinello, Eckhard Pfeiffer, and Rick Wagoner who also serves as chairman of the board.
General Motors was named one of the "100 Best Companies for Working Mothers" in 2004 by Working Mothers magazine. GM has also given millions of dollars in computers to colleges of Engineering through its PACE Awards program. Together with the United Auto Workers, GM created a joint venture dedicated to the quality of life needs of employees in 1985. The UAW-GM Center for human resources in Detroit is dedicated to providing GM salaried employees and GM UAW members programs and services related to medical care, diversity issues, education, training and tuition assistance, as well as programs related to work and family concerns, in addition to the traditional union-employer health and safety partnership.
The postwar automobile industry became enamoured with the concept of "planned obsolescence", implemented by both technical and styling innovations with a typical 3-year product cycle. In this cycle, a new basic body shell is introduced and then modified for the next two years with minor styling changes. GM, Ford, and Chrysler competed vigorously in this new restyling environment.
The 1971 Chevrolet Vega was GM's launch into the new subcompact class. Problems associated with its innovative aluminum engines would damage GMs reputation more than perhaps any other vehicle in its history. During the late 1970s, GM would initiate a wave of downsizing starting with the Chevrolet Caprice which was reborn into what was the size of the Chevrolet Chevelle, the Malibu would be the size of the Nova, and the Nova was replaced by the troubled front-wheel drive Chevrolet Citation.
In 2004, GM redirected resources from the development of new sedans to an accelerated refurbishment of their light trucks and SUVs for introduction as 2007 models in early 2006. Shortly after this decision, fuel prices increased by over 50% and this in turn affected both the trade-in value of used vehicles and the perceived desirability of new offerings in these market segments. The current marketing plan is to tout these revised vehicles extensively as offering the best fuel economy in their class (of vehicle). GM claims its hybrid trucks will have gas-mileage improvements of 25%.
In the summer of 2005, GM announced that its corporate chrome emblem "Mark of Excellence" will begin appearing on all recently introduced and all-new 2006 model vehicles produced and sold in North America. The move is seen as an attempt by GM to link its name and vehicle brands more closely.
In 2005, GM promoted sales through an employee discount to all buyers. Marketed as the lowest possible price, GM cleared an inventory buildup of 2005 models to make way for its 2006 lineup. While the promotion was a temporary shot in the arm for sales, it did not help the company's bottom line. GM has since changed its marketing strategy to a no haggle sticker policy in which all vehicle prices are lowered, but incentives are reduced, if not eliminated.
On Monday, August 18, 2008, GM announced it has dropped its advertising for the upcoming 2009 Academy Awards and the Emmys in September. GM cited cost cutting and a return to marketing that works best. Media outlets have been struggling in the face of American automakers cutting "billions" in advertisements as the economy slows and American automakers struggle. American automakers have cut 414 million in advertising spending in the first quarter of 2008 alone.
On June 3, 2008, less than three weeks after ratification of the new contract, GM announced that, due to soaring gasoline prices and plummeting truck sales, it would close four additional truck and SUV plants, including the Oshawa pickup plant.
In response, the CAW organized a blockade of the GM of Canada headquarters in Oshawa. The blockade was ended by an Ontario Superior Court order, after 13 days. Further discussions between GM and the CAW resulted in an agreement to compensate workers at the truck plant and additional product commitments for the Oshawa car assembly plant.
GM's Oldsmobile Aurora engine platform was successful in the Indy Racing League (IRL) throughout the 1990s, winning many races in the small V-8 class. 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 Impala 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.
In touring cars (mainly in Europe) Vauxhall is a key player and former champion in the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) series and competes with a Vauxhall Vectra in Super 2000 spec. Opel used to participate in the DTM series and also in the 1980s in the World Rally Championship and other Rally Series with Group B Spec Opel Manta's before this category of Rallying was banned. Chevrolet competes with a Lacetti in the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC). Robertshaw Racing also complete with a privately run Lacetti in the BTCC.
In Australia, there is the prestigious V8 Supercar Championship which is battled out by the two main rivals of Holden & Ford. The current Holden Racing Team cars are based on the Holden Commodore and run a 6.0-litre V8-cylinder engine producing 650+BHP (approx 480 kW Power) @ 7500 rpm). These cars have a top speed of 300+km/h (185 mph) and run 0-100 km/h in less than 4 seconds. The Holden Racing Team is Australia's most successful team in Australian Touring Car History. In 2007 the Drivers championship was won by the very closely linked HSV Dealer Team.
Delco Electronics used a small group of electronic designers and technicians at their facility in Goleta, California (near Santa Barbara, California) to do special assignable projects that were advanced or more state of the art. This facility was called Delco Systems Operations (formerly known as GM Defense Research Labs), a part of Delco Electronics Corporation at the time. Delco Systems Operations is the place where the Apollo Program's Lunar Rover Mobility Sub-system was developed and built, also the Apollo Program's guidance computers (Apollo PGNCS) and the Boeing 747 guidance computers (Delco Carousel IV) were developed and manufactured there. All Delco Electronics Motorsports products developed before 1994 were designed by this group. From 1994 to present, this activity is at Delco Electronics/Delphi in Kokomo, IN.
The first generation of engine management controller for CART racing used a modified production ECM, but performed poorly in the race car due to the harsh EMI (Electromagnetic Interference) environment. This version was never used in racing, but the experience gained enabled the engineers to design a more successful Generation 2 controller for use in the 1988 CART IndyCar World series.
In 1989 Newman/Haas Racing, Team Penske, Galles Racing, and Patrick Racing teams used Delco Electronics Gen-2 controllers with the Ilmor Chevy Indy V8 engine. "By the start of the 1989 season, racing pundits recognized that Chevrolet, with its Ilmor Engineering engines and Delco Electronics equipment, had assembled perhaps the most potent racing power in the history of the sport. As the season got under way in April, the pattern of winning began. Racing's elite drivers -- Al Unser, Jr. and Senior, Emerson Fittipaldi, Rick Mears, Danny Sullivan, and Mario and Michael Andretti -- were driving the best equipment in the world.
The results began to show early on. By October, Chevy engines with DE equipment had won 13 of the 15 IndyCar races.
When Emerson Fittipaldi crossed the finish line to win the 1989 Indianapolis 500, racing fans witnessed history being made. Fans thrilled to the neck-and-neck finish between Fittipaldi and Al Unser, Jr. who went spinning on lap 198 after brushing tires with Emmo, and the 43-year-old Brazilian had his first Indianapolis 500 win. Fittipaldi's victory -- in a Chevrolet Indy V8 engine controlled by a Delco Electronics electronic engine control module (ECM) -- was the first time in the 500's storied history that the engine of the winning vehicle was controlled by an electronic engine management system
For the 1990 season, all teams using the Ilmor Chevy Indy V8 were provided a redesigned Gen-3 system and it won 15 poles, 16 wins including the 1990 Indianapolis 500, with 17 races in the IndyCar World Series. To prove the system, the components were used with GM engines in the Trans-Am Racing series during 1989.
In the 1991 IndyCar World Series, Gen-3 had a perfect score: 17 poles, 17 wins, 17 races including the 1991 Indianapolis 500. At the 1991 Indianapolis 500, Delco Electronics introduced telemetry to the electronic system using the advanced spread spectrum radio technology . It was so popular that all IndyCar teams eventually used it, and many still use it. ABC TV used the data from the systems to display real time data with ABC's in-car video cameras.
In 1990 and 1991, the Chevy engine with the Delco Electronics Gen-3 controller won 33 straight IndyCar races. Chevy's dominance proved electronics had found their place in IndyCar racing.
In the 1992 IndyCar World Series, race cars with Gen-3 captured 7 poles, 11 wins including the 1992 Indianapolis 500, in 16 races.
For the 1993 IndyCar World Series, Delco Electronics had been developing a smaller more powerful controller using 32-bit computers and a high-level software language called Modula-GM. This system was called Gen-4 and won much praise for its improved functions and features. The telemetry system developed for the 1992 season was used, and a new Distributorless Ignition module component was added to the overall engine management system. 10 wins including the 1993 Indianapolis 500 in 16 CART races.
In 1994, a totally new Ilmor engine was introduced to IndyCar teams and the engine controller was Delco Electronics Gen-4: 12 wins including the 1994 Indianapolis 500, 16 races.
In 1995, Gen-4 won 6 races out of 17.
In 1996, the Indy Racing League split from CART and used the naturally aspirated Oldsmobile Aurora engine which used the Delco Electronics Gen-4 system until the engine was retired from the IRL IndyCar Series a few years ago. 1997 was the last year the Gen-4 ran in the CART IndyCar World Series.
Per a February 27, 2003 Delphi Press Release, Delphi's current involvement in open wheel racing is as follows:
"Delphi is the official electronics provider to the IRL and has been involved in open-wheel racing since 1988. Today, a majority of the vehicles in the IRL are equipped with several of Delphi's racing products including:
Delphi also has begun offering services to the racing industry, including Hydraulic Sled Testing from its state-of-the-art testing laboratory in Vandalia, Ohio. Delphi provides comprehensive safety testing using a hydraulic test sled to simulate a crash. Services include on-board data acquisition, on- and off-board digital video monitoring and the use of Delphi safety products such as the earpiece sensor system and accident data recorder."
Awards for this program:
Louis Schwitzer Awards for Engineering Excellence (since 1967):
1994: Mario Illien, Mercedes 209 CID Engine with Delco Electronics Gen-4 controller (Also won in 1986 for Ilmor-Chevrolet Engine that used Gen-2, 3, & 4 controllers 1988 to 1996)
1996: Dave Schnelker, Ning wu, I-Fu Shih of Delco Electronics & Ed Rothrock of Bell Sports (Design of Racing EyeCue)
1997: Ed Keating and Roger Allen of GM Motorsports (Oldsmobile Aurora Engine with Delco Electronics Gen-4 controller)
2005: Delphi engineers Erskine Carter, Glen Gray, Andy Inman, Tim Kronenberg and Bruce Natvig (Delphi Earpiece Sensor System)
2007: Delphi engineers Erskine Carter, Glen Gray, Andy Inman, Tim Kronenberg and Bruce Natvig (Delphi Accident Data Recorder 3 - ADR 3))
GM supported a compromise version of the CAFE standard increase from 27 mpg to 35 mpg, the first such increase in over 20 years.
Micky Blyis the director of General Motors hybrid vehicle integration .
In May 2004, GM delivered the world's first full sized hybrid pickups, and introduced a hybrid passenger car. 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. Future hybrid vehicles should include the 2007 GMC Yukon, the Saturn Aura, and an updated Saturn Vue based an Opel design like the Saturn Aura.
GM has recently introduced the concept cars Chevrolet Volt and Opel Flextreme, which are electric vehicles with back-up generators, powered by gasoline, E85, or fuel cells. According to GM, a production Chevrolet Volt will be available by late 2010 as a 2011 model.
GM currently offers two types of hybrid systems. The first type, used in the Silverado Hybrid, Saturn Vue, Saturn Aura, and Chevrolet Malibu, is what GM calls a "Mild Hybrid" or "BAS" system. The second hybrid drive system,co-developed with DaimlerChrysler and BMW, is called a "Two-Mode Hybrid." The two-mode is used by the Chevrolet Tahoe/GMC Yukon and will later be used on the Saturn Vue, and possibly other vehicles.
GM's current hybrid models:
The GM Magic Bus is a hybrid powered bus.
GM sold 843 hybrids of all types during the first quarter of 2008, according to the industry newspaper Automotive News. Compared that with Ford, which sold 5,225 hybrids during that time. The hands-down hybrid leader, Toyota, sold 278,000 in the U.S. alone last year and 430,000 worldwide. CSM Worldwide, expects GM to seriously increase its hybrid output, turning the automaker into a serious contender within the next few years. He expects it to produce 40,000 to 50,000 hybrids this year, more than doubling last year's production.
By the end of 2008, GM will offer 25 ethanol-enabled FlexFuel cars and trucks around the world, and produce more than one million new FlexFuel vehicles. GM's goal is to have half of their annual vehicle production be E85 or biodiesel capable by 2012.
In June 2006 the documentary Who Killed the Electric Car? was released, criticizing among others, GM for being responsible for the demise of the EV1.
Several weeks before the debut of the movie, the Smithsonian Institution announced that its EV1 display was being permanently removed and the EV1 car put into storage. GM is a major financial contributor to the museum, but both parties denied that this fact contributed to the removal of the display.
General Motors has responded to complaints about the scrapping of the EV1 program and they dispute the existence of any conspiracy surrounding its demise. An entry was posted on the GM blog FastLane in 2006 in which GM defended its decision by saying that it was unable to guarantee the vehicles could continue to be maintained in a safe operating state.
GM alleges that during the four years available to the public, only 800 EV1's were released. Over $1 billion was spent on the EV1 program, with a great portion used for consumer incentives and marketing. With a waiting list of 5,000 applicants, only 50 individuals actually were willing to accept a lease on the EV1. Suppliers ceased production of replacement parts due to the low demand for the EV1. This made repairs and continued safety of the vehicles difficult. The EV1 was designed as a developmental vehicle and was never intended for serial production.
The limitations of storage technology and the expense of production would have made the cars impractical for the vast majority of consumers; a production EV1 would have met limited demand and would have been priced out of reach of most. Had sufficient demand existed to justify mass production and had costs and technologies been able to support mass production, GM would have been more receptive to the idea.
GM responded to allegations made in the film through a blog post by Dave Barthmuss, who said "Sadly, despite the substantial investment of money and the enthusiastic fervor of a relatively small number of EV1 drivers — including the filmmaker — the EV1 proved far from a viable commercial success. Barthmuss notes investments in electric vehicle technology since the EV1: Two-Mode Hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and fuel cell vehicle programs. The filmmakers suggested that GM did not immediately channel its technological progress with the EV1 into these projects, and instead let the technology languish while focusing on more immediately profitable enterprises such as SUVs. Contrary to this suggestion, as Barthmuss points out, GM is bullish on hydrogen:
According to GM, not all of the EV1's were destroyed. Many were donated to research institutions and facilities, along with museums. Some are still owned by General Motors themselves, and are kept at their technical design center in Warren, Michigan, and can occasionally be seen on the road within a close area of the tech center.
After Toyota ceased production of the RAV-4EV in 2001, no other major automaker on the road offered a fully electric vehicle designed for everyday use on public transportation routes for some time; however Think Nordic, at one time under the ownership of Ford, have produced a range of electric vehicles in limited numbers. In 2007, Tesla Motors began taking orders for the fully electric Tesla Roadster, which was designed for less than 1/10th of the cost of the EV1. Production on the Roadster began in March, 2008, and GM executives have expicitly stated that the emergence of the Tesla Roadster was a primary reason why GM accelerated the Chevy Volt project; the spiritual successor to the EV1.
In February 2005, GM successfully bought itself out of a put option with Fiat for $2 billion USD (€1.55 billion). In 2000, GM had sold a 6% stake to Fiat in return for a 20% share in the Italian automaker. As part of the deal, GM granted Fiat a put option which, if exercised between January 2004 and July 2009, could have forced GM to buy Fiat. GM had agreed to the put option at the time, perhaps to keep it from being acquired by another automaker such as Daimler AG competing with GM's Opel and Vauxhall marques. The relationship suffered, and Fiat had failed to improve. In 2003, Fiat recapitalized, reducing GM's stake to 10%.
In February 2006, GM slashed its annual dividend from 2.00 to $1.00 per share. The reduction saved $565 million a year.
In March 2006, GM divested 92.36 million shares (reducing their stake from 20% to 3%) of Japanese manufacturer Suzuki, in order to raise $2.3 billion. GM originally invested in Suzuki in the early 1980s.
On March 23, 2006, a private equity consortium including KKR, Goldman Sachs Capital, and Five Mile Capital purchased $8.8 billion, or 78% of GMAC, GM's commercial mortgage arm. The new entity, in which GMAC will own a 21% stake, will be known as Capmark Financial Group.
On April 3, 2006, GM announced that it would sell 51% of GMAC as a whole to a consortium led by Cerberus Capital Management, raising $14 billion over 3 years. Investors also include Citigroup's private equity arm and Aozora Bank of Japan. The group will pay GM $7.4 billion in cash at closing. GM will retain approximately $20 billion in automobile financing worth an estimated $4 billion over three years.
GM sold its 8% stake in Isuzu on April 11, 2006, to raise an additional $300 million.12,600 workers from Delphi, a key supplier to GM, agreed to buyouts and an early retirement plan offered by GM in order to avoid a strike, after a judge agreed to cancel Delphi's union contracts. 5,000 Delphi workers were allowed to flow to GM.
On June 28, 2007, GM agreed to sell its Allison Transmission division to private-equity firms Carlyle Group and Onex for $5.1 billion. The deal will increase GM's liquidity and echoes previous moves to shift its focus towards its core automotive business. The two firms will control seven factories around Indianapolis but GM will retain management of a factory in Baltimore. Former Allison Transmission president Lawrence E. Dewey will be the new CEO of the standalone company.
On February 12, 2008 GM announced its loss of $39 billion, the biggest loss of any U.S. automaker. GM has offered buyouts to all its UAW members.
In March 24, 2008 GM reported a cash position of $24 billion, or $6 billion less than what was on hand September 31, 2007, which is a loss of $1 billion dollars a month. A further quarterly loss of $15.5 billion, the third-biggest in the company's history, was announced on 1 August 2008.
As GM opens new plants, those scheduled to close under the planned GM restructuring include (source: General Motors Corporation):
|Moraine Assembly||Ohio||Dec 23 2009||Mid-size SUV assembly||4,165|
|Oklahoma City Assembly||Oklahoma||Early 2006||Mid-size trucks and SUV assembly||2,734|
|Lansing Craft Centre||Michigan||Mid-2006||Chevrolet SSR roadster assembly||398|
|Spring Hill Manufacturing Line 1||Tennessee||March 2007||Saturn Ion sedan and coupe assembly||5,776|
|Janesville Assembly||Wisconsin||By 2010||Full Size SUV Assembly||2,800|
|Lansing Metal Center||Michigan||2006||Metal fabricating||1,398|
|Portland Distribution Center||Oregon||2006||Parts distribution||95|
|Saint Louis Distribution Center||Missouri||2006||Parts distribution||182|
|Pittsburgh Metal||Pennsylvania||2007||Metal fabricating||613|
|Ypsilanti Processing Center||Michigan||2007||Parts processing||278|
|Flint North 3800||Michigan||2008||Engines||2,677|
|Massena 250||New York||2008||Foam|
In 1996 documentary Taken for a Ride, GM is cited as being mastermind of purchase and destruction of private fixed rail transit systems in US cities from 1920s until 1950s. The documentary claims the motivations were to eliminate fixed rail systems and implement the idea of buses and cars as more efficient and better alternatives in order to increase GM sales.