Once world’s largest automaker, GM retreats overseas as other companies take the lead
MON, DEC 16
Paul A. Eisenstein
- At its peak in 2016, the Detroit automaker’s global volume hit a record 10.01 million, declining to 8.38 million just two years later.
- Since taking the helm 6 years ago, CEO Mary Barra has followed a strategy that might be referred to as one of strategic retrenchment.
- The company’s abandoned a number of once-critical markets, including Western Europe, India and, most recently, Russia.
Long the world’s largest automaker, General Motors has watched an assortment of key competitors push past it in the global sales race this past decade and may soon find itself slipping into the No. 5 spot behind the likes of Volkswagen, Toyota and the company that will be created by the soon-to-merge Fiat Chrysler and PSA.
While the Detroit giant initially put up a fight to hang onto its global sales crown, GM has now abandoned its longtime strategy of growth, almost no matter what the cost. Since taking the helm about six years ago, CEO Mary Barra has followed a strategy that might be referred to as one of strategic retrenchment, abandoning a number of once-critical markets, including Western Europe, India and, most recently, Russia.
“They’re in retreat, peeling off the places where they don’t think they can make money for the foreseeable future,” said Joe Phillippi, founder and senior analyst at AutoTrends Consulting.
General Motors lost its position as the world’s bestselling automaker in the run-up to its 2009 bankruptcy, the company emerging from Chapter 11 protection having abandoned four of its North American brands: Hummer, Pontiac, Saab and Saturn. It briefly regained the lead from Toyota when the 2011 tsunami led to major production cuts by all Japanese automakers. A year later, Toyota was back on top and, since then, GM has fallen further and further behind Volkswagen and the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, as well.
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