A brief history of General Motors Corp.
By The Associated Press
As General Motors Corp. prepares to celebrate its 100th
anniversary, some key events in the giant automaker's history:
Sept. 16, 1908 - General Motors Company founded by William C.
1909 - GM sells 25,000 cars and trucks.
1910 - Durant brings the Buick, Olds, Pontiac, Cadillac,
Champion ignition, AC spark plug and other companies into GM. Sales
rise 60 percent, but earnings lag. Durant is ousted by bankers as
company sinks into debt.
1911 - Electric self-starter first appears on a Cadillac.
1916 - GM incorporated as General Motors Corp. Durant, after
founding company that builds Chevrolets, regains control.
1917-19 - GM shifts most truck production to war effort.
1920 - Durant resigns, later files personal bankruptcy and dies
running bowling alleys.
1920s - GM creates product policy aiming Buick, Pontiac,
Chevrolet, Oldsmobile and Cadillac at five different groups of
1921 - GM accounts for 12 percent of U.S. car market.
1923 - Alfred P. Sloan named president and chief executive.
1925 - GM acquires Vauxhall Motors Ltd. of Great Britain.
1929 - GM acquires Adam Opel AG of Germany.
1937 - Violent sit-down strikes by GM hourly workers in Flint,
Mich., shake company, lead to United Auto Workers representation.
1941 - GM market share grows to 41 percent.
1942 - Civilian auto production halted and plants turned to war
1945-46 - Workers strike for 113 days.
1948 - First automobile fins unveiled, on a Cadillac.
1949 - After purchase of National City Lines of Los Angeles, GM
accused of buying streetcar companies since 1920s and replacing
them with bus systems. GM is convicted just once, of conspiracy in
the Los Angeles case.
1953 - Air conditioning first offered, on a Cadillac.
1954 - GM's U.S. market share reaches 54 percent. Company makes
50 millionth car.
1955 - GM introduces Chevrolet V-8 engine.
1956 - Sloan retires as chairman.
1960 - Reacting to invasion of small European cars, GM
introduces Chevrolet Corvair. Car later attacked by Ralph Nader,
who wrote book "Unsafe at Any Speed" that led to congressional
auto safety hearings.
1979 - GM's U.S. employment peaks at 618,365, making it the
largest private employer in the country. Worldwide employment is
853,000. Decade features sales decline, recession, Arab oil embargo
and gains by Japanese automakers.
1980 - Roger B. Smith named chairman. GM loses more than $750
million as car and truck sales plunge 26 percent.
1981 - GM consolidates truck, bus and van operations. Auto
workers bash Japanese cars with sledge hammers. Company earns
$333.4 million on $62.7 billion in revenue.
1983 - GM and Toyota Motor Corp. of Japan form joint venture to
build cars at a GM-owned plant in Fremont, Calif. Smith announces
Saturn project to fight Japanese cars. GM makes $3.7 billion.
1984 - GM overhauls North American organization; acquires
Electronic Data Systems Corp., owned by Texas billionaire H. Ross
Perot, for $2.5 billion. Earnings rise to $4.5 billion on revenue
of $84.9 billion.
1985 - Company forms new Saturn Corp. subsidiary. GM acquires
Hughes Aircraft Co. for $5 billion. GM makes $4 billion.
1986 - GM announces plans to close 11 U.S. plants. Employment
grows to 877,000 as earnings fall to $3.9 billion. After
infighting, Perot resigns from board and gets $700 million in
1987 - GM and UAW reach contract prohibiting closure of a plant
unless its product sales fall. Earnings rise to $3.6 billion.
1988 - Earnings rise to $4.6 billion and revenue hits $123.6
billion. Employment drops to 766,000.
1989 - GM complies with federal regulations and equips about 15
percent of fleet with driver's air bags, blames devices for
boosting car prices. Profits fall to $4.2 billion.
1990 - GM and Saab-Scania AB of Sweden form joint venture to
make cars in Europe. Smith retires as chairman, succeeded by
President Robert Stempel. GM launches Saturn, takes $2.1 billion
charge for four plant closings, and profits fall to $102 million as
auto sales plummet.
1991 - Company loses industry record $4.45 billion. Stempel
announces GM will close 21 plants over the next few years and
eliminate 9,000 salaried and 15,000 hourly jobs in 1992, in
addition to layoffs at shuttered plants.
1992 - Board strips some of Stempel's authority. Stempel later
resigns, saying rumors about his future compromised his ability to
lead. Jack Smith gets title of chief executive officer and outside
director John Smale is named chairman.
1996 - GM spins off Electronic Data Systems as a separate
1997 - GM sells defense electronics business of Hughes
Electronics to Raytheon and merges Hughes' auto parts business with
Delphi Automotive Systems (now Delphi Corp.).
1998 - Strikes at two Michigan parts plants shut down almost all
North American production.
1999 - Delphi is spun off as a separate company. GM purchases
rights to the Hummer brand from AM General.
2000 - President Rick Wagoner replaces Smith as CEO. GM cuts 10
percent of white-collar employment.
2002 - GM spends $251 million on 42 percent stake in South
Korea's bankrupt Daewoo Motor and names it GM Daewoo Auto &
Technology Co. Stake later increased to 51 percent.
2003 - GM sells defense unit to General Dynamics Corp. for $1.1
billion and sells 20 percent stake in Hughes Electronics to News
Corp. for $3.1 billion.
2004 - Last model year for Oldsmobile.
2006 - About 47,600 GM and Delphi hourly workers take buyout or
early retirement offers. GM investor Kirk Kerkorian suggests
alliance with Nissan and Renault, which GM's board examines and
rejects; Kerkorian sells much of his stake. GM sells 51 percent
stake in GMAC Financial Services to group led by Cerberus Capital
Management LP for $14 billion.
2007 - GM loses $38.7 billion, including $39 billion
third-quarter charge for unused tax credits. It's the largest
annual loss in auto industry history. GM reaches historic contract
with United Auto Workers that shifts billions in retiree health
care expenses to union-administered trust. Company agrees to pay
$33.7 billion into trust. Contract also lets company to pay some
new hires $14 per hour. U.S. market share is 23.7 percent. GM sells
Allison Transmission to The Carlyle Group and Onex Corp. for $5.6
2008 - Gas prices hit $4 per gallon and truck sales plummet. GM
announces plan to close four pickup and sport utility vehicle
factories, plans to shed 8,350 jobs. GM announces new small car,
plans for $15 billion in savings, with $10 billion in cost-cutting
and $5 billion from asset sales and borrowing. Hummer brand put up
for sale. Worldwide employment stands at about 266,000.
Sources: Associated Press archives, Hoover's, General Motors
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)