The city of Detroit has been more than a riveting and insightful business story. The Motor City is an unforgettable journey deep inside the quintessentially American industry, in general, and of the ‘Big Three’ of the automobile industry, in particular.
Henry Ford democratised the automobile industry with a revolutionary Model T that defined the 20th century and shaped the future of mankind. At the same time, and on this day (September 16) in 1908, William Crapo Durant, a high-school dropout who had made his fortune building horse-drawn carriages, incorporated General Motors. Though he kept his middle name a secret for a good reason, the company he formed was no craptastic.
General Motors was the opposite of Ford. Instead of banking on just one car, like the Model T, it had different cars to cater to different consumers. In its first two years, GM cobbled together 30 companies, including 11 automakers like Oldsmobile, Cadillac, and Oakland (which later became Pontiac).
With innovation as its north star, General Motors has been constantly pushing the limits of technological breakthroughs for the last 110 years. General Motors developed and manufactured the first air conditioners for vehicles. Just imagine a hot day inside a car and being without an AC. Remember to thank Frigidaire, then a GM subsidiary, who came up with the brilliant device in 1929, making dream a reality.
Rollover testing is now a standard practise when doing a car crash test. GM was the first to conduct rollover testing in 1934. Five years later, GM created and installed the first automatic transmission system. Same year, Buick introduced the first standard-equipment turn signal, a much safer ride with signals inside the car, so both hands could remain on the steering wheel. Another first is the ‘hybrid’ car that runs on a traditional gasoline motor and an electric motor. GM was interested in contributing to green energy even way back in 1966 and was working on a hydrogen cell hybrid car. GM also invented the anti-lock braking system (ABS) in 1972, the world’s first. This feature keeps the wheels from locking up while breaking. These breakthroughs have led to GM being recognized as an innovative, forward-thinking, and creative automobile manufacturer. To achieve its ambitious three-part mission, the company announced last October that it will launch 20 new all-electric vehicles by 2023.
General Motors has been the world’s largest motor-vehicle manufacturer for much of the 20th and early 21st centuries. GM reached the milestone of selling 10 million vehicles in 2016. It manufactures vehicles in 35 countries that are sold under various brands that include Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Holden, and Wuling. Former GM automotive brands include Daewoo, McLaughlin, Oakland, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Hummer, Saab, Saturn, as well as Vauxhall and Opel.
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