The History of General Motors

General Motors, or GM, is known as the Big Three in the United States. Along with Ford and Chrysler, GM captures a large percentage of vehicle buyers. The company has been around a long time and has made a name for itself in the industry.

Early Days

GM started out in a big way in 1908. The company was capitalized by William C. Durant and began making purchases. The day after it had capital, it bought Buick Motor Company and went on to acquire numerous other brands, including Cadillac, Oldsmobile and Oakland, which would later be renamed Pontiac.

Durant wasn’t new to the industry. He had owned another company since 1886, which was producing thousands of carriages each year. Durant also owned Ford dealerships before GM came about.

Durant wasn’t with GM long, being forced out by stockholders in 1910. He founded the Chevrolet Motor Company a year later with a partner by the name of Louis Chevrolet. By 1916, Chevrolet owned just over half of GM through the financial backing of Pierre S. du Pont, and Durant became head of GM again.

The first Chevrolet car under the GM company was the 1918 490. Durant was once again removed in 1920. During this period, consumer financing became possible with the founding of GMAC, allowing more consumers to buy GM vehicles than Ford. It was during the late 1920’s that GM surpassed Ford as the leader in sales.

General Motors continued to expand, adding new ventures to the company and adding various lines to the models under the parent company. As with other auto manufacturers, GM turned to building war vehicles during World War II. The company ranked first in wartime production among US companies.

Postwar, the company continued to grow into one of the largest in the world with more employees than any other business. It also had six divisions, including GMC, Cadillac, Buick, Oldsmobile, Pontiac and Chevrolet. GMC sold trucks and no other vehicles, making it unique among the brands.

Modern Times and Struggles

During the 1960’s and 1970’s, GM began to develop a range of models, some of which are still recognizable today. The Chevy Camaro came about in response to the Ford Mustang while the Chevy Corvair was comparable to the Volkswagen Beetle.

The 1970s saw the birth of the Chevy Chevelle and Chevette. In the 1980’s, the J-body cars became popular with the Chevrolet Cavalier as one of the well-loved models and later the Chevy Cobalt.

The company struggled in the 1980’s and 1990’s with a loss of significant market share. However, GM began to rebound in the 2000’s with a focus on trucks and SUVs. Some brands were no longer made, such as Oldsmobile and Pontiac. Others have gained new life with updated models, such as Chevrolet with trucks like the Chevy Silverado.

GMC has stuck with what it knows best, which is trucks and SUVs. Today, the Acadia and Yukon are well-recognized for comfort and performance in the full-size SUV category. The Sierra 1500 has become competitive with rivals, such as the Ford F-150 and RAM 1500.

General Motors has proven that it has the power to adapt and continues to be a leader in the auto industry. As long as the company can meet customer needs, it will remain a player in the market.