General Motors

General Motors is multinational automaker that is based in Detroit, Michigan. Founded in 1908 as a holding company for Buick, General Motors quickly began to purchase other automakers. Oldsmobile was GM’s first acquisition, which was followed shortly by Cadillac, which are both divisions that have survived up through the present day. Today, General Motors has operations in 37 countries around the world and has 11 different brands and divisions under its umbrella.

gm logo

Each GM division has its own logo, although the main logo is often used on keys and elsewhere.

History of General Motors

The history of General Motors can be traced back to 1899 and the founding of Buick (then the Buick Auto-Vim and Power Company.) Buick was founded by David Dunbar Buick, but the company was in James H. Whiting’s hands by 1903. Then, in 1904, Whiting brought William C. Durant in to manage the company.

It was the success of Buick under Durant’s stewardship that led to the creation of General Motors. By 1908, Buick was the largest single automaker in the United States, and Durant parlayed that success into a series of acquisitions. First, he created the General Motors holding company, after which he inked a deal to purchase Cadillac. A number of other purchases would follow soon after, including the two companies (Reliance Motor Truck Company and Rapid Motor Vehicle Company) that would become the GMC Truck division of the new company.

Rather than pitting each internal division against the others, Durant established a tiered structure that placed Cadillac at the top, Buick immediately below that, and so on. This structure allowed each division to target a specific market segment without unnecessary internal competition.

In 1910, Durant lost control of the holding company he had formed. He went on to form the Chevrolet Motor Car Company with the help of a driver he had employed during his days at Buick and a handful of investors. When GM purchased Chevrolet a few years later, Durant would once again take control of the holding company. He reorganized it as the General Motors Corporation at that time and brought in Chevrolet as an entry-level division.

Although Durant would again lose control of GM in 1916, but the general structure that he created has persisted into the present day, with brands like Chevrolet providing “entry level” vehicles for younger drivers who can then “move up” to brands like Buick and Cadillac as and when their means allow.

General Motors has been one of the largest automakers in the world  for the better part of a century, and its combination of internal divisions led global automobile sales for a total of 77 years running. That run ended in 2007, although the automaker ranked second in the world for the next three years and was once more the largest automaker (by unit sales) by the year 2011.

After going through bankruptcy proceedings in 2009, General Motors issued an IPO that would end up being one of the five largest ever in the world. Even after that, the United States Treasury owned a controlling interest of GM stock shares. As of 2012, the percentage of shares owned by the US government had been reduced from over 60 percent to under twenty percent.

Vital General Motors Corporation Data

Founded: Flint, Michigan (1908)
Current headquarters: Detroit, Michigan
Yearly production: 9,489,000 vehicles (2012)
Employees: ~212,000
Subsidiaries: Adam Opel AG, GM Holden LTD., OnStar
Joint Ventures: SAIC-GM-Wuling, Shanghai GM

General Motors Contact Information

North America

Phone: 800.462.8782 (GMC)

Mailing Address
General Motors Company
Box 33170
Detroit, MI
48232-5170



JD Laukkonen

JD Laukkonen turned wrenches in the north end of Seattle for a decade, so he's no stranger to the inner workings of modern automobiles. He has worked as a freelance writer since closing his shop in 2007, and he currently covers automotive technology for Lifewire.com.

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