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A History of General Motors
A Concise History of General Motors written by: penmanship The history of General Motors (GM), one of the world’s largest automobile manufacturers, is one of spectacular growth. GM was founded by William Durant and Charles Stewart Mott in 1908. Both Durant and Mott had been manufacturers of horse-drawn carriages before moving into automobiles with the establishment of Buick, which was then taken over by GM at its founding. Mott was the major stakeholder.
The company engaged in a rapid expansion program, which was soon to lead to major debt problems. It took over Oldsmobile in 1908, and in the following year acquired several other automobile manufacturers, including Cadillac. In the same year, it moved into the trucking business with its acquisition of two manufacturers in that sector.
In 1910, due to debts and a collapse in sales, Mott lost control of GM to a trust. He immediately founded Chevrolet, and quickly regained control of GM by secretly buying stock in the company. He remained at the helm for the next 6 years, overseeing major growth, until losing his company again due to another collapse in sales.
Sales recovered well after the Depression, and from 1931 GM exploited the boom to continue its impressive expansion. It had unprecedented and sustained growth for over 70 years. From 1931 until 2007, the company sold more cars each year than any other manufacturer. For the next 3 years, it fell to second place, but regained the number 1 spot in 2011.
The company introduced many innovations throughout its history. By 1930, it had opened more than 12 manufacturing plants outside the US. With America’s entry to WWII, all its US production was diverted to supplying military needs.
Increased competition and environmental concerns forced the company to overhaul and downsize all its vehicles from 1970 onwards. GM introduced engines that ran on lead free petrol, and also gave the world catalytic converters and the first air bags.
The company had to be bailed out by the US Treasury in 2009, and the bailout conditions emphasized the need to restructure to become leaner and fitter. This goal has been achieved, and GM continues to grow stronger.
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