General Motors was founded by William “Billy” Durant on September 16,
In 1899, Opel entered the growing automobile market with the Opel-Patent-
Motorwagen System Lutzmann and became a part of General Motors thirty
Acquire more than 20 companies including Oldsmobile, Cadillac, and
Oakland, today known as Pontiac.
Philosophy and strategy of “a car for every purse
The milestone 1927 Cadillac LaSalle, with curves
rather than sharp corners and a long, low stance,
made people see cars as far more than just a mode of
The case examines the problems faced by GM, the second largest automaker in
the world. These problems have brought the company at the verge of
bankruptcy. The major reasons for the crisis at GM were its inability to bring
out new vehicles that suit the needs of the customers, poor business strategy,
and high costs associated with employee healthcare and pension benefits.
These problems, coupled with global financial crisis and recession in the
economies of several developed and developing countries adversely impacted
the revenues of GM, which fell by 11% in 2008 as compared to 2007. In order
to solve its liquidity crisis, GM approached the US Government for financial
General Motors continues to develop innovative
technologies to shape the future of the automotive
The company was granted US$ 13.4 billion through a series of federal loans. In
December 2008, GM got a loan of US$ 4 billion.
The company was required to fulfill specific targets that included reduction in
debt, renegotiation of employee contract terms with the unions etc, before a
stipulated time as a part of the loan package.
If GM failed to meet these targets by the predetermined time, it had to repay
the loan amount with interest within 30 days.
On February 17, 2009, while submitting the 'Restructuring Plan,' GM
asked for additional financial aid from the US government to carry on its
operations after March 2009.
The case concludes with a note on the challenges GM is likely to face in
the near future if it is not able to meet the targets specified.
It also debates on whether the US Government should have offered any
financial aid to GM at all and let the company file bankruptcy.
2.New vision and strategy
3.Strong brand portfolio
4.Strong presence in China
5.Knowledge of home
6.4 well performing brands
1.High cost structure
1.Positive attitude towards
2.Increasing fuel prices
3.Changing customer needs
1.Fluctuating fuel prices
2.New emission standards
3.Rising raw material prices
2001: GM detects the defect during pre-production testing of the
2003: A service technician closes an inquiry into a stalling Saturn Ion after
changing the key ring and noticing the problem was fixed.
2004: GM recognizes the defect again as the Chevrolet Cobalt replaces the Cavalier
March 2005: GM rejects a proposal to fix the problem because it would be too
costly and take too long.
May 2005: A GM engineer advises the company to redesign its key head, but the
proposal is ultimately rejected.
May 24, 2005: GM posts a $1.1 billion first-quarter loss, blaming it on union
overhead and high gas prices harming SUV sales.
December 2005: GM sends dealers a bulletin stating the defect can
occur when "the driver is short and has a large and/or heavy key chain
... the customer should be advised of this potential and should ...
[remove] unessential items from their key chain.“
July 29, 2005: Maryland resident Amber Marie Rose, 16, dies when
her 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt crashes into a tree after the ignition switch
shuts down the car's electrical system and the air bags fail to deploy.
December 2005: GM issues a service bulletin announcing the
problem, but does not issue a recall.
July 26, 2006: GM loses $3.2 billion in the second quarter, absorbing costs of early
retirement buyout packages to 30,000 blue collar workers.
March 2007: Safety regulators inform GM of the issues involved in Amber Rose's
death; neither GM nor the safety regulators open a formal investigation.
April 2007: An investigation links the fatal crash of a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt in
Wisconsin to the ignition defect, but regulators do not conduct an investigation.
September 2007: A NHTSA official emails the agency's Office of Defects
Investigation recommending a probe looking into the failure of air bags to deploy in
crashes involving Chevrolet Cobalts and Saturn Ions, prompted by 29 complaints, four
fatal crashes and 14 field reports.
Nov. 17, 2007: The Office of Defects Investigation at NHTSA concludes that
there is no correlation between the crashes and the failure of air bags to deploy,
ending the proposed probe.
Dec. 12, 2008: The U.S. Senate votes to oppose a government bailout for GM,
despite support from outgoing President George W. Bush and President-elect
Barack Obama and GM's announcement that it's nearly out of cash and may not
survive beyond 2009.
Dec. 18, 2008: President Bush announces bankruptcy is an option, if it's
"orderly" and involves unions and other stakeholders.
Dec. 19, 2008: Bush approves a bailout plan, giving GM and Chrysler $13.4
billion in initial financing from the Troubled Asset Relief Program.
April 22, 2009: GM says it will not be able to make a June 1, 2009, debt
April 24, 2009: GM says that it will scrap the Pontiac brand to invest
more in Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC.
June 1, 2009: GM files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
July 10, 2009: The U.S. Treasury purchases GM assets, giving the
government primary ownership of the company.
February 2010: NHTSA again recommends a probe looking into
problems with air bags in Cobalts; ODI again decides that there is no
correlation and drops the matter.
Oct. 26, 2010: Consumer Reports says GM is considered "reliable" based on
scores from road tests and performance on crash tests.
2012: GM identifies four crashes and four corresponding fatalities (all involving
2004 Saturn Ions) along with six other injuries from four other crashes
attributable to the defect.
Sept. 4, 2012: GM reports August 2012 sales were up 10 percent from the
previous year, with Chevrolet passenger car sales up 25 percent.
June 2013: A deposition by a Cobalt program engineer says the company made a
"business decision not to fix this problem," raising questions of whether GM
consciously decided to launch the Cobalt despite knowing of a defect.
Chapter 11 is a chapter of Title 11 of the United
States Bankruptcy Code, which permits reorganization
under the bankruptcy laws of the United States.
Chapter 11 bankruptcy is available to every business,
whether organized as a corporation, partnership
or sole proprietorship, and to individuals, although it is
most prominently used by corporate entities
1. Mr Wagoner has gone, there has been no cull of GM's leaders—who helped to
get it into this mess.
2. Mr Henderson is an experienced financial manager, but GM may need
someone more inspiring to shake it out of its consensual, bureaucratic ways.
3. Senior members of the auto task-force found Chrysler to be better run in some
ways than GM.
Although GM's cost base will be more in line with that of its
transplant rivals, it will still be handing about $600m a year to the
UAW in the form of dividends on preferred stock to comply with
the revised health-care agreement. On the rather rosy assumption
that GM sells 2m vehicles a year in America, each one will have to
carry $300 in health-care costs. Unresolved questions remain about
the firm's pension fund, which at the end of 2008 was underfunded
by about $13 billion.
GM's market-share forecasts still look optimistic. It expects
its share to stabilise at around 18.5%, only one percentage
point below its figure for this year. But GM will have fewer
brands and dealers, and rivals will be eager to exploit its
withdrawal from parts of the market.
There is a danger that with the government as its biggest shareholder, GM
will be pushed into making the kind of cars—smaller and more fuel-
efficient—that Mr Obama approves of rather than the sort Americans want
Although new CAFE standards should encourage the shift away from the
thirstiest models, trucks still get off too lightly and the administration seems
to have no appetite for the one thing that would radically change buying
habits: a big increase in petrol taxes or a more widely applied tax on carbon
GM has suffered as much from a price problem as
from a cost problem. GM's vehicles sell for between
$3,000 and $10,000 less than Toyotas of the same
size. “This is a brand issue”, says Mr Warburton,
“and the brands won't be fixed by Chapter 11.”
GM emerges from bankruptcy, it will have shed some
of its burdens, but the damage done by decades of
mismanagement and union intransigence will still
weigh heavily. The new GM will not be quite as new as
either it or the government would like Americans to
Mrs Suma Mathew
Dept. of MBA
School Of Management
SJCET School of Management