General Motors: A History From 1908 to 2021

General Motors was one of the largest automakers, and it still carries prestige. It boasts manufacturing plants worldwide and owns multiple brands. However, the once-mighty automaker is not as large as it once was. Is GM facing financial trouble, or are things looking up?

General Motors has a long, illustrious history

RELATED: Neither Chevy nor GMC Makes the Best New GM Cars According to Consumer Reports

William C. Durant founded the General Motors Company in 1908, Britannica reports. It was a big deal at the time, as it united several companies under one umbrella. They included Buick, Oldsmobile, Cadillac, Oakland (later Pontiac), Ewing, Marquette, Reliance, and Rapid trucks. 

Not satisfied merely to own a bunch of carmakers, the General Motors Company redefined the auto world by ridding it of the frustrating hand crank. This led to the first electric self-starter, debuting in the 1912 Cadillac.

Soon, other brands joined General Motors, and things were looking up. But as so often happens with success, drama followed. Durant got the boot, and Alfred P. Sloan Jr. replaced him. It was a brilliant move. Sloan organized the business and took the now-General Motors Corporation to new levels.

The company continued to grow, and General Motors Corporation went global. Soon it was outclassing Ford and produced nearly 44 percent of the automobiles stateside. Watch Mojo reports that the idea of monthly car payments came from Sloan, which helped draw more business than ever. The 1950s and ’60s went great. But in the ’70s, things began to get tough for GM.

Japan had entered the auto world with a vengeance. And for the first time, GM was facing serious competition. Designers such as Ed Welburn not only helped keep GM afloat and helped it beat Toyota to remain the biggest automaker. 

GM endured through many ups and downs. It bought companies, sold companies, and saw companies like Oldsmobile go bankrupt. Then GM itself faced bankruptcy in 2006. And President George W. Bush came to the rescue.

Since then, GM has been going strong, though it’s not as large as it once was. It still owns several brands, but many are now relics. 

General Motors’ brands

RELATED: Ford and GM Waste a Lot of Money on Vehicles That Aren’t Trucks and SUVs

Though General Motors doesn’t command the same respect it once did, it still owns several brands. Pontiac and Oldsmobile are no more, but Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GMC remain under the GM umbrella.

The loss of Hummer was felt around the world, or that’s how it seemed for Hummer fans anyway. However, General Motors is bringing it back as a sub-brand. GM is also partnering with Honda to build more electric vehicles by 2024.

The automaker’s future

RELATED: 2020 Wasn’t Such a Disaster for General Motors After All

The pandemic hit nearly all automakers hard, but GM has held its own. General Motors recently released sales numbers from the first quarter of this year, and things are looking up.

In fact, its sales figures have grown 19 percent since the same period last year. That wasn’t the only good news, either.

According to General Motors, GMC and Chevrolet are dominating the full-size SUV segment. The Chevy Bolt EV also had its best first-quarter sales ever. 

Though GM is no longer the powerhouse it once was, it appears things are still looking up. And who knows? General Motors could still return to its glory days. Only time will tell.