General Motors

Template:Infobox Company General Motors Corporation Template:Nyse, also known as GM, is a United States-based automobile maker with worldwide operations and brands including Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Daewoo, GMC, Holden, Hummer, Opel, Pontiac, Saturn, Saab, and Vauxhall.

Chevrolet and GMC divisions produce trucks, as well as passenger vehicles. Other brands include ACDelco, Allison Transmission, and General Motors Electro-Motive Division that produces diesel-electric locomotives. GM also has stakes in Isuzu, Subaru, and Suzuki in Japan and a joint venture with AutoVAZ (Lada) in Russia. In December 2003, it acquired Delta in South Africa, in which it had taken a 45 percent stake in 1997, and which is now a fully-owned subsidiary, General Motors South Africa.

GM's headquarters are in the Renaissance Center in Detroit, Michigan.

General Motors is the world's largest vehicle manufacturer and employs over 340,000 people. In 2001, GM sold 8.5 million vehicles through all its branches. In 2002, GM sold 15 percent of all cars and trucks in the world. They also owned Electronic Data Systems from 1984 to 1996 and, prior to selling it to News Corporation, DirecTV. GM owned Frigidaire from 1918 to 1979.

The current chairman (since May 1, 2003) and chief executive officer (since June 1, 2000) is Rick Wagoner, succeeding John F. Smith, Jr.



Missing image
Albert Kahn's General Motors Building, 3044 West Grand Boulevard, Detroit, MI

General Motors was founded in 1908 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, and Oakland.

During the 1920s and 1930s General Motors bought out the bus company Yellow Coach, helped create Greyhound bus lines, replaced intercity train transport with buses, and established subsidiary companies to buy out streetcar companies and replace the rail-based services with buses. GM formed United Cities Motor Transit, in 1932. See General Motors streetcar conspiracy for additional details.

General Motors bought the internal combustion engined railcar builder Electro-Motive Corporation and its engine supplier Winton Engine in 1930, renaming both as the General Motors Electro-Motive Division. Over the next twenty years diesel-powered locomotives and trains, the majority built by GM, largely replaced other forms of traction on American railroads.

On December 31, 1955, General Motors became the first American corporation to make over one billion dollars in a year.

After GM's massive layoffs hit Flint, Michigan, in the 1980s, budding documentary filmmaker and Flint native Michael Moore focused on the company and its chairman and CEO at the time, Roger B. Smith, in his first big hit, Roger & Me.

A strike began at the General Motors parts factory in Flint, Michigan on June 5, 1998, that quickly spread to five other assembly plants and lasted seven weeks.

At one point it was the largest corporation in the United States ever, in terms of its revenues as a percent of GDP. In 1953 Charles Erwin Wilson, then GM president, was named by Eisenhower as Secretary of Defense. When he was asked, during the hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee if as secretary of defense he could make a decision adverse to the interests of General Motors, Wilson answered affirmatively but added that he could not conceive of such a situation "because for years I thought what was good for the country was good for General Motors and vice versa." Later this statement was often garbled when quoted, suggesting that Wilson had said simply, "What's good for General Motors is good for the country." At the time, GM was the one of the largest employers in the world – only Soviet state industries employed more people.

In May 2005, Standard & Poor's downgraded GM's credit rating to junk bond status.

On April 4, 2005 General Motors Corp. sold is Electro-Motive Division to Greenbriar Equity Group LLC and Berkshire Partners.

General Motors Hughes Electronics

Hughes Electronics was formed in 1985 when Hughes Aircraft was sold by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to General Motors for $5 billion. General Motors merged Hughes Aircraft with its Delco Electronics unit to form GM Hughes Electronics (GMHE). The group then consisted of:

  • Hughes Aircraft
  • Delco Electronics
  • Hughes Space and Communications
  • Hughes Network Systems

In August 1992 GM Hughes Electronics purchased General Dynamics' Missile Systems business. In 1994 Hughes Electronics introduced DirecTV, the world's first high-powered DBS service. In 1995 Hughes Electronic's Hughes Space and Communications division became the largest supplier of commercial satellites. Also in 1995 the group purchased Magnavox Electronic Systems from the Carlyle Group. In 1996 Hughes Electronics and PanAmSat agree to merge their fixed satellite services into a new publicly held company, also called PanAmSat with GMHE as majority shareholder.

In 1997 GM transferred Delco Electronics to its Delphi Automotive Systems business. Late in the year the defense operations of Hughes Electronics (Hughes Aircraft and missile business) were merged with Raytheon.

Hughes Space and Communications remained independent until 2000, when it was purchased by Boeing and became Boeing Satellite Systems.

In 2000 the remaining parts of Hughes Electronics: DirecTV, DirecTV Latin America, PanAmSat and Hughes Network Systems were purchased by NewsCorp and renamed The DirecTV Group. Newscorp sold PanAmSat to Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR) in August 2004.


General Motors was named one of the 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers in 2004 by Working Mothers magazine.

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