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General Motors Fast Facts

CNN Editorial Research

Here’s a look at General Motors, one of the Big Three US automakers.


Major GM automobile brands in the United States are Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC.

Domestic and international subsidiaries at one time included Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Hummer, Saturn and Saab.

GM is one of the largest vehicle manufacturers and marketers in the world, with operations on six continents.

2014 was an epic year of recalls for GM, which cost the company $4.1 billion in repair costs, victim compensation and other expenses.

GM is headquartered in Detroit.


September 16, 1908 – General Motors Company is founded under the leadership of William Durant. The new company brings together several car companies, including Buick. Olds Motor Works (Oldsmobile) is bought by GM later in 1908.

1908 – General Motors acquires the Rapid Motor Vehicle Company, a truck company. It later evolves into GMC.

1909 – GM acquires Cadillac Motor and Oakland Motor Car Company (later renamed Pontiac).

1910 – When the company has financial difficulties, Durant is ousted.

1911 – Durant co-founds Chevrolet Motor Company.

1915 – Durant becomes GM’s largest shareholder.

1916 – Durant returns as president of GM.

1918 – Chevrolet becomes a division of GM.

1918 – GM joins the war effort during World War I, retooling 90% of the GMC truck production line for military use. More than 8,500 trucks are sold to the US Army for use in the war.

1920 – With GM on the verge of bankruptcy, Durant retires as president. He starts another car company, Durant Motors, but loses his fortune in the 1929 stock market crash. Durant lives until 1947, surviving on a pension from GM.

1923-1956 – Alfred P. Sloan Jr. serves as president and later chief executive of GM.

1925 – General Motors expands internationally by purchasing Vauxhall Motors, a British company.

1929 – GM takes a majority stake in German car maker Adam Opel AG. During World War II, the German government nationalizes Opel, but GM regains control after the war ends.

1936-1937 – A drawn-out strike at GM plants leads the company to sign its first agreement with the United Auto Workers labor union.

1942-1945 – GM produces vehicles and weapons for use by the US military during World War II.

1954 – General Motors accounts for 54% of the auto market in the United States, up from 12% in 1921.

1965 – Activist Ralph Nader publishes “Unsafe at Any Speed” with a section critical of the Chevrolet Corvair. GM hires detectives to investigate Nader. Later GM’s president is forced to publicly apologize and pay Nader $425,000 to settle a lawsuit.

1980 – GM reports a net loss of more than $700 million, its first unprofitable year since 1921.

1980-1990 – GM’s share of the US market falls from 45% to 35%.

1984 – GM purchases Electronic Data Systems Corporation, started by Ross Perot, for $2.5 billion.

1998 – A 54-day strike by the United Auto Workers (UAW) union costs GM approximately $2 billion in profits.

2008 – GM announces that it lost $38.7 billion in 2007, a record loss for the company.

November 18-19, 2008 – GM CEO Rick Wagoner and the CEOs of Ford and Chrysler appear before Congress to request $25 billion in government assistance for the automobile industry.

December 2008 – GM receives a bailout of $13.4 billion from the US Treasury, through the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

March 30, 2009 – CEO Rick Wagoner announces that he is resigning at the request of the Obama administration.

April-May 2009 – General Motors receives another $6 billion in bailouts from TARP.

May 29, 2009 – GM stock closes at less than $1 a share for first time since the Great Depression.

June 1, 2009 – GM files for bankruptcy. It receives another $30 billion in government funding to assist with restructuring. After bankruptcy, the company will be 60.8% owned by the US government, 11.7% by the Canadian government, 17.5% by the UAW union and unsecured bondholders will have a 10% share.

July 10, 2009 – General Motors emerges from bankruptcy after 39 days. It is now known as General Motors Company instead of General Motors Corporation.

December 1, 2009 – CEO Fritz Henderson resigns after less than a year in the position.

January 25, 2010 – Chairman Edward Whitacre Jr. is named CEO of General Motors.

April 7, 2010 – GM announces that the company lost $3.4 billion in the fourth quarter of 2009.

August 12, 2010 – CEO Ed Whitacre announces that he will be stepping down on September 1, 2010.

November 18, 2010 – GM raises $20 billion with its initial public offering at $33 a share.

February 24, 2011 – GM announces that the company made $4.7 billion in 2010, its first profit since 2004.

January 19, 2012 – GM is officially the top automobile manufacturer in the world. Nine million vehicles sold in 2011 helped to make it the largest automaker in China also.

December 9, 2013 – The US Treasury sells its remaining shares of GM stock, closing the book on the 2009 bailout. The United States only recouped about $39 billion of the approximately $50 billion it put into GM.

December 10, 2013 – Mary Barra is named the first female CEO of GM.

February 14, 2014 – GM recalls 780,000 vehicles due to faulty ignitions.

February 26, 2014 – GM expands a recall of compact cars to 1.37 million vehicles built between 2003 and 2007, due to possible ignition problems. Thirteen people have died in accidents.

March 28, 2014 – The recall of GM vehicles with ignition issues is expanded to 2.6 million vehicles.

March 31, 2014 – GM recalls 1.3 million vehicles due to a power steering issue.

May 15, 2014 – GM announces it is recalling another 3 million vehicles worldwide, and that it will take a $200 million charge for those repairs. The bulk of the latest recall applies to 2.4 million cars with a wiring problem that’s been tied to at least 13 accidents, two injuries and no deaths.

May 16, 2014 – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) fines GM $35 million to settle a federal probe into the 10-year delay of its ignition switch recall. This is the maximum fine for a single violation. The money from the fine goes to the US Treasury, not to compensate crash victims. A separate FBI investigation is still underway.

May 20, 2014 – GM recalls another 2.4 million US cars and trucks. Spokesman Alan Adler says that no injuries or deaths are associated the recalls.

May 22, 2014 – CNN reports a total of 29 separate GM recalls since January 2014 covering 13.8 million US cars and trucks, and 15.8 million vehicles worldwide.

June 5, 2014 – GM releases the results of an internal probe relating to delayed recalls and the deaths of at least 13 people. GM Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra announces that 15 employees have been dismissed and five more have been disciplined. Barra also announces GM will create a program to compensate those injured or killed by the defective cars. Compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg will decide how victims will be paid.

June 16, 2014 – GM recalls another 3.36 million vehicles worldwide for a different ignition switch issue linked to eight crashes and six injuries. This brings the total number of cars recalled by GM this year to more than 20 million.

June 30, 2014 – GM recalls 8.4 million vehicles worldwide, most for faulty ignition switches. This brings the total number of vehicles GM has recalled in 2014 to 27 million in the United States, nearly 30 million worldwide.

GM announces compensation of at least $1 million to families of at least 13 people who died as a result of a faulty ignition switch. GM is also offering money to those injured by the defective cars.

October 20, 2014 – The office of Attorney Ken Feinberg, who is administering the compensation program, announces that a total of 56 claims have been approved by his team, including 29 deaths, four serious injuries and 23 less serious injuries.

December 8, 2014 – Feinberg’s office releases a report on claims relating to GM’s faulty ignition switch recall. Thirty-eight deaths are now attributed to the defect, and are eligible for payment. Also eligible for payment are six cases of severe injury and 45 cases of other injury.

February 2, 2015 – Feinberg’s office releases an updated report, after the program’s January 31, 2015, deadline. More than 4,180 claims have been filed against General Motors, alleging the automaker’s vehicles with faulty ignition switches caused deaths and injuries. So far, 128 claims have been ruled eligible, including 51 deaths.

December 10, 2015 – GM’s faulty ignition switch caused 124 deaths, according to a final report from the attorney administering funds to accident victims.

December 15, 2016 – CEO Mary Barra announces GM will build autonomous Chevrolet Bolt electric cars in the Detroit area starting next year.

March 6, 2017 – Says it’s selling its European business for $2.3 billion to France’s PSA, the maker of Peugeot and Citroen cars, and announces it is laying off 1,100 workers in Michigan. It’s the fourth layoff GM has announced since November.

August 5, 2017 – Recalls about 700,000 Chevy and GMC trucks because of a potential software problem that can cause them to spontaneously lose their electric power steering assistance for about a second.

October 17, 2017 – GM’s self-driving arm, Cruise Automation, says it will begin testing its self-driving Chevy Bolts inside five square miles of Manhattan in early 2018.

January 12, 2018 – Cruise Automation unveils an autonomous vehicle that has no manual controls. Because the car is fully autonomous, the company says a steering wheel, accelerator and brake pedals aren’t needed.

April 3, 2018GM announces it will no longer report monthly sales, ending a common practice in the auto industry. The company believes that quarterly sales reports are more effective metrics for investors.

June 13, 2018GM announces that Dhivya Suryadevara will be its new chief financial officer starting September 1, joining an exclusive club of companies that have both a female CEO and CFO. Mary Barra is the company’s current CEO.

June 29, 2018 – In a letter to the Commerce Department, GM warns that the proposed tariffs by the Trump administration could force the company to cut jobs and raise the price of cars.

October 3, 2018 – Honda commits to invest $2 billion over 12 years into GM’s autonomous vehicle subsidiary, Cruise.

November 26, 2018 – GM announces that it will shut down production at five facilities in North America and cut its staff, reducing its salaried workforce by 15%. This restructuring means GM will stop making sedans that the public no longer wants, including the Chevrolet Volt, Impala and Cruze and the Buick LaCrosse.

September 15, 2019 – Nearly 50,000 members of the United Auto Workers union go on strike against GM, the first work stoppage in the US auto industry in 12 years. It’s also the largest strike by any union against any business since the last strike at GM in 2007.

October 25, 2019 – The UAW union vote in favor of a four year labor deal, ending a 40 day strike.

November 20, 2019 – GM sues Fiat Chrysler, arguing it was hurt by the rival automaker’s corrupt labor relations with the UAW union.

December 5, 2019 – GM and LG Chem announce plans for a $2.3 billion factory to build batteries for electric cars.

February 16, 2020 GM announces it will retire the Holden brand, which has existed in Australia for more than 160 years, by 2021. GM announces it will also be pulling its sales, design and engineering operations out of Australia and New Zealand.

March 20, 2020 GM announces it is working with ventilator maker, Ventec Life Systems, to help increase Ventec’s production in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

April 8, 2020 – The US Department of Health and Human Services announce a nearly $500 million contract with GM under the Defense Production Act to produce 30,000 ventilators that will be delivered to the national stockpile to help treat coronavirus patients.

April 14, 2020 GM announces that 600 ventilators will be shipped by the end of April, with the rest of the government’s 30,000 ventilator order completed by the end of August.

September 3, 2020 – GM and Honda announce an agreement that will entail the companies sharing basic vehicle designs to be sold under their respective brands. The car companies will use the same machinery and physical structures for their various models.

January 8, 2021 – GM redesigns its logo for the first time since 1964. The “G” and “M” are now in lowercase, with the “m” representing prongs on an electric plug. The change the company says symbolizes its shift toward electric vehicles.

August 20, 2021 – GM recalls all remaining Bolt EV and EUV electric vehicles in the United States and Canada for a problem that could cause the vehicles to catch fire. The recall of about 73,000 Bolt vehicles comes after GM had previously recalled about 70,000 Bolt vehicles for the same potential problem. The recall now covers Bolt EV and EUVs from 2017 to 2022 and is projected to cost the company $1.8 billion.

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