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General Motors

General Motors is a American company, a conglomerate composed of automobile makers, representing many brands, including Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Holden, Hummer, Oldsmobile, Opel[?], Pontiac, Saturn, Saab, and Vauxhall. Chevrolet and GMC divisions produce trucks, as well. Oldsmobile is being closed out in 2004. Other brands include Hughes Electronics[?] (Directv[?]), ACDelco, Allison Transmission, and GM Electro-motive. GM also has stakes in Isuzu[?], Subaru, Suzuki, Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Lancia, and Daewoo[?]. It is the world's largest vehicle manufacturer and employs over 340,000 people. In 2002 GM sold 15% of all cars and trucks in the world.

General Motors was founded in 1908, aquiring Buick and Oldsmobile that year. Headquarters are in Detroit, Michigan.

During the 1920s and 1930s General Motors bought out the bus company Yellow Coach[?], helped create Greyhound bus lines, replaced intercity train transport with buses, and established subsidiary companies to buy out tram (streetcar) companies and replace the trams by buses. General Motors bought the train engine maker Winton Engine[?] in 1930, and shifted production from electric to diesel engines. This encouraged the use of fossil fuels and made it difficult to change social policies of energy generation[?].

It a common belief popularized by Bradford Snell[?] that General Motors was convicted of conspiracy in the 1950s in their program to buy up and destroy electric urban trolley systems so that urban transit would be forced to rely on GMC buses and that this is the principal reason that modern-day trolley systems are rare in the United States today. This belief has been questioned by Sy Adler[?] who points out that, among other things, that General Motors was not convicted of buying up urban trolly systems but rather merely of forcing bus companies owned by General Motors to use General Motors buses and that trolley ridership peaked in the 1920 before GM's actions.

General Motors supported opposing sides during World War II. According to a report presented to the United States Senate in 1974, during the 1920s and 1930s, General Motors (and Ford and Chrysler) expanded to many countries in Europe, including Germany. They continued to supply trucks to both the US military and the German military. The report claims that General Motors and Ford subsidiaries built nearly 90 percent of the armored "mule" 3-ton half-trucks and more than 70 percent of the Reich's medium and heavy-duty trucks. These vehicles, according to American intelligence reports, served as "the backbone of the German Army transportation system".

The chairman of General Motors at the time, Alfred P. Sloan, allegedly defended this support of the German government, because GM's operations in Germany at that time were "highly profitable".

After WWII, General Motors and Ford demanded reparations from the US government for damage to their factories in Germany caused by Allied bombing.

On December 31, 1955 General Motors became the first American corporation to make over one billion dollars in a year.

At one point it was the largest corporation in the United States ever, in terms of its revenues as a percent of GDP.

Further reading

  • Bradford C. Snell, American Ground Transport: A Proposal for Restructuring the Automobile, Truck, Bus and Rail Industries. Report presented to the Committee of the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Antitrust and Monopoly, United States Senate, February 26, 1974, United States Government Printing Office, Washington, 1974, pp. 16-24.

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