GM, General Motors, Automotive trends, Auto industry trends, Automotive market research, Automotive market analysis, auto industry news

General Motors is an American OEM that sells cars and commercial vehicles under the following brands: Chevrolet, Cadillac, GMC and Buick. It is the former owner of Opel and Vauxhall (sold in 2017), Saab, Pontiac, Saturn and Hummer (all closed or divested). This page contains research on GM's activities and strategy.

Source: Company Reports, Ad Punctum Analysis -- Global wholesales & China retail sales

Source: Company Reports, Ad Punctum Analysis -- Excludes Joint Ventures & discontinued European business

Automotive trends, Auto industry trends, Automotive market research, Automotive market analysis, auto industry news

2019

February

  • The UAW union launched a lawsuit against GM asking US courts to order plants scheduled for “unallocation” to remain open. (Reuters)
  • Made a series of executive changes to replace the heads of North America (GM) and manufacturing. (GM)
  • Investing $20 million to increase capacity for 10 speed transmissions at the Romulus, Michigan, plant. (GM)
  • Will continue vehicle production at Detroit-Hamtramck until January 2020, rather than ceasing in mdi-2019 as previously planned. (Reuters)
  • Will sell electric bicycles under the Ariv brand in Europe. At around €3,000 each, it seems that GM are determined not to repeat the low pricing levels that afflicted Opel and Vauxhall. (GM)
  • Rumoured to be working on an electric pick-up truck underpinned by a Tesla powertrain. (Clean Technica)
  • In a sarcastic-sounding review of an impromptu concert for workers by globetrotting megastar Sting, GM detailed the redundancy payments it was prepared to make for Canadian plant employees. (GM)
  • Took a 35% stake in connected vehicle data analysis firm Wejo in a deal worth €60 million. (EU Startups)
  • Will invest $36 million in the Lansing, Michigan, plant, but won’t say what it is for. (GM)
  • Began firing 4,000 US salaried staff and walking them off company premises. Payouts are a maximum of 6 months salary for those with 12 years or more of service. (Detroit Free Press)
  • Suffered production stoppages at the Oshawa, Canada plant due to strikes at a local supplier. (Reuters)

January

  • May invest around $2.7 billion in its Brazilian operations between now and 2024, if it receives enough government support. (Reuters)
  • The head of GM’s mobility business left the company. (Detroit News)
  • Temporarily stopped production at several Michigan factories after the gas utility reported supply shortages and requested help in prioritising homes and emergency services. (Reuters)
  • Working towards a revamp of the Cadillac subscription service, but not until it has worked out how to increase the involvement of the dealers. (Automotive News)
  • Canadian unions called for a boycott of Mexican-made vehicles in protest at GM’s closure of a local plant. GM took the threat seriously enough to issue a press release saying why it thought that was a bad idea. (GM)
  • Investing $22 million in the Spring Hill, USA, plant to introduce an upgraded engine. (GM)
  • Chevrolet stopping using an advertisement that claimed (based on a survey commissioned by Chevrolet) that the brand’s vehicles had better reliability than Ford, Honda and Toyota after threats of legal action. (Detroit News)
  • Told Brazilian workers that “sacrifices” were required to turn a profit in the country, calling on them to support a mysterious “viability plan” that has been presented to the board. The company’s approach seems very similar to that used in South Korea. (Reuters)
  • CEO Barra said that GM would be launching more products in the US but that workers at the plants slated for closure / unallocation shouldn’t hold their breath as they would likely be used to improve capacity utilisation at the remaining US plants. (Detroit News)
  • Workers at Canadian suppliers have begun walking off the job in support of GM workers at plants likely to close. Unions have also threatened to humiliate the company at public events. (Detroit Free Press)
  • Executives were dismissive of hybrids, saying the powertrains were “countermeasures” to the decline of internal combustion engines and the smart money was on electric vehicles. (Green Car Reports)
  • CEO Barra said “stay tuned” when asked if the company was planning a full size pick-up truck. She might want to consider a more equivocal answer since in November GM’s strategy chief said “there will not be any AV/EV pickups”. (Electrek)
  • Held a capital markets day where it forecast improved 2019 returns, when many analysts had feared a drop. GM said Cadillac will be the “lead” electric vehicle brand and that, following restructuring, South American operations had reduced the breakeven point by 40% and GM Korea was on a “path” to profitability. (GM)
  • Launching a set of battery electric vehicles for Cadillac beginning with a crossover codenamed BEV3. (Detroit News)
  • Oshawa plant workers continue to hold work stoppages in protest at the plan to close the plant. (Detroit Free Press)
  • Agreed that GM owners could access the stations of three US charging networks and pay through GM’s app. (GM)
  • Appointed the PD chief as company president; it seems that he will continue in his existing role. (GM)
  • Cruise vehicles will trial home food delivery in partnership with DoorDash. (GM)
  • One Maven user reports that he is receiving $800 a month for renting out his car on the platform. Since the owner gets 60% of the total fees, that implies $1,330 in monthly gross revenues. (Detroit News)
  • The UAW union is suing GM, complaining that it is using temporary workers in preference to full-time employees who are out of work at other plants. (Reuters)
  • The CTO (and ex-CEO) of Cruise continued to play down rumours that GM might spin-off the self-driving unit saying that it was better to develop the technology alongside vehicle engineers. (Bloomberg)

2018

FY & Q4 2018 Earnings

  • Sold 2,954,037 vehicles in the key US market in 2018, with 785,229 in Q4. GM is “bullish” about 2019 sales. (GM)
  • Reported Q4 and full year 2018 earnings. Q4 revenue of $38.4 billion, was up 1.8% from 2017 but adjusted EBIT fell (8.3)%. On a full year basis, Revenue was $147 billion and adjusted EBIT was $11.8 billion. GM said the results already included a lot of restructuring costs that would improve profits in future years. (GM)

December

  • Laying off 50 workers at the Brownstown battery plant, suggesting that the cessation of Chevrolet Volt will not see an increase in sales of other hybrid vehicle types. (Detroit Free Press)
  • Although the Lordstown, Ohio plant is “unallocated”, GM said the “next steps” will be part of the 2019 negotiations with the UAW union. (Reuters)
  • Said that 1,100 employees at plants facing “unallocation” have taken up offers to fill some of the 2,700 vacancies GM has across the US. (CNBC)
  • CEO Barra faced questioning by US lawmakers over the company’s recently announced factory closures. She said that she understood worker concerns but that GM had over capacity and would not resort to taking work away from non-US plants as it would be costly to move products during their production cycle. Her comments seemed to also imply that some or all of the US plants could remain open in return for unspecified sacrifices by the UAW union at a national level. The UAW says GM is violating the current contract if it closes US plants during 2019. (Reuters)
  • Announced GM President Ammann would leave the car business and become CEO of the Cruise self-driving unit. The current CEO (and founder) will become the CTO. GM will eliminate his role. (GM)
  • Donald Trump was unimpressed by GM’s restructuring plans and suggested that they cease making vehicles in China or alternatively put cars that are selling well into the factories slated for closure. (Reuters)
  • Tried to soften the blow of its restructuring announcement by saying “many” of the workers at the factories that will close would have the “opportunity” to work in other locations. GM also thanked the current US government and summarised the number of plants in Ohio that would remain open. (GM)
  • Showed off some of the data insights it has gained from customers using the Marketplace app. GM knows that owners mostly order takeaways on Wednesday night and go to the petrol station after 3pm on a Thursday. Less clear was whether this information has any revenue-raising potential. (Detroit Free Press)

November

  • Announced the “unallocation” - GM-speak for almost certain closure - of three vehicle plants (Oshawa, Detroit-Hamtramck and Lordstown), two transmission plants (Baltimore and Warren) and two additional plants outside of North America. GM expects the redundancies to cost around $2 billion with an additional $1.8 billion in write downs. GM will also reduce the salaried workforce by 15% (program already underway) and cut 25% of the executives. (GM)
  • Reportedly will have to make more than 3,000 salaried employees forcibly redundant after too few signed up for voluntary severance packages. (World Socialist)
  • Increases in production at the Cami Assembly plant in Canada will likely have reduced the workforce on layoff to zero by the end of 2019. (London Free Press)
  • Cruise will open a new office in Seattle. (GeekWire)
  • The NHTSA is looking into braking problems that could affect 2.7 million vehicles in the US. (Detroit Free Press)
  • GM Ventures invested in MapAnything. (Venture Beat)
  • GM’s Marketplace payment and advertising app has been judged a success internally and a version 2.0 is under development. GM says that for fuel stations the click through rate on offers is 20% and companies such as office equipment suppliers are finding it a useful source of customers. (Wards)
  • By around the middle of 2020, GM expects the Maven car sharing scheme to have annual revenues of around $200 million and be in a position where an IPO would be plausible. GM detailed a number of operating metrics about Maven, such as: current acquisition cost for new customers is “below $100”; and utilisation of car sharing vehicles is around 35%. (Seeking Alpha)
  • GM believes air transport will become integrated with autonomous vehicles and leverage similar electric power technology but that in the near future (and the next “couple of decades”) gasoline will dominate North America sales. The firm is not intending for there to be “any AV/EV pickups”. (Detroit Free Press)
  • Moving three quarters of the employees at the Pontiac propulsion development centre to the main technical campus in Warren, Michigan, raising speculation over the future of the site. (Detroit Free Press)
  • Transferring 200 workers from the Lansing plant (cars) to Flint (pick up trucks). (ABC12)

October

  • Believes that the methods of measuring the safety of autonomous vehicles are a “competitive advantage” and so it won’t disclose details of its approach. (Seeking Alpha)
  • Said that Cruise will still spend around $1 billion in the full year, implying cash outlay of about $500 million in Q4 (a significant increase in trend rate) but that it wasn’t based on increases in the fleet size or a new testing location that explained the difference, leaving analysts scratching their heads. (Seeking Alpha)
  • Stopping two substantial renovation projects in Michigan and offering voluntary redundancy packages to around 18,000 salaried staff in the US in a bid to weather “an eventual downturn in the economy”. GM will consider involuntary redundancies if not enough staff sign up. (Reuters)
  • Launching two e-bikes and running a competition to decide the brand name. (GM)
  • Suspending Cadillac’s subscription pilot. Off-the-record sources blamed the high costs of delivering different vehicles all the time, Cadillac said it wanted to study the “insights” from the program. (The Verge)
  • Said that it was not economically feasible for US fleet fuel economy to reach 50 mpg by 2025 but that it would support improvements based on historic trend rates of progress. (Reuters)
  • GM’s Cruise self-driving unit is having problems meeting pre-launch targets, according to off-the-record sources, but the unit’s CEO expressed confidence in the previously announced 2019 launch date. (Reuters)
  • Said that a nationwide US zero emissions vehicle incentive program could boost demand such that in 2030 there would be 7 million such vehicles on the road. (GM)
  • Korea’s state development bank said that although it was not “unconditionally” opposed to a separation of GM’s production and research units in the country, but wanted to see more information on how it would be run as a going concern. (Yonhap)
  • Workers in South Korea may go on strike over the company’s moves to separate its R&D operations there from the plants. Unions said the restructuring “appears to be a move to sell its car plants”. (Yonhap)
  • GM executives think some people turn down ride hailing if the driver has an Infiniti QX60 rather than a Chevrolet Suburban. (Digital Trends)
  • Honda will invest $750 million in a 5.7% share in GM’s Cruise self-driving unit and has agreed to a further $2 billion of spending over the next 10 years. (GM)
  • Honda and GM are developing a purpose-built shared autonomous vehicle built on Cruise’s technology. The teaser image in a blog post by Cruise’s CEO suggests it looks something like VW’s Sedric concept. (GM)
  • CEO Barra said US regulators needed to set rules for self-driving vehicles, calling new legislation “essential”. (Axios)

Q3 2018 Financial Results

  • Reported financial results for Q3 2018. Revenue of $35.8 billion rose 6.4% from a year earlier. Adjusted EBIT of $3.2 billion was 28% better than prior year. GM said Cruise recent run rate of cash spending was between $100 million - $200 million per quarter. (GM)

September

  • Moving the Cadillac brand headquarters back to Michigan from New York. (WJLA)
  • Recalling over 3.3 million vehicles in China to correct suspension problems. (Reuters)
  • Reportedly in talks to sell its Pune, India plant to JSW Energy. (Mint)
  • Simplified its electric vehicles organisation and created a new head of innovation role. (Detroit News)
  • Recalling over 240,000 vehicles to fix brake problems (Detroit Free Press) and 1 million more to sort out steering malfunctions. (USA Today)
  • CEO Barra said “there’s going to be a point where we’re going to be upgrading and improving cars instead of fixing them”. She also confirmed that GM believes it is on track to launch geofenced operation of driverless vehicles next year but demurred on specifying a timeframe for autonomous features to be available for retail customers to purchase. (Fast Company)
  • Investing $28 million in its Michigan battery development lab. (Detroit News)
  • Issued $2.1 billion in unsecured debt, partly to fund pension obligations in the UK and Canada. (GM)
  • Trademarked “Drivescription” in the US, potentially for use in a future subscription service. (GM Authority)

August

  • Executives said the company will “probably have a different solution” for supply of small diesel engines that are currently sourced from Opel, once the model is upgraded. (Automotive News)
  • Said the new 6 cylinder diesel will be followed by smaller engines based on the same modular structure, with an I4 and possibly I3 in the works. GM also thinks that next generation diesel hybrids may help to stabilise the market share of the fuel type. (Automotive News)
  • Increasing the amount of product development it does in Australia, even though it has ceased manufacturing in the country. GM will recruit around 150 new engineers to bring the total to 500. (com.au)
  • Employees at one of GM’s few components factories (in Rochester, USA) are worried that a move to source fuel system parts from an external supplier spells the end for their plant after 2021. (Democrat&Chronicle)
  • Announced US customers will be able to purchase fuel from Shell stations using the in-dash Marketplace app. (Shell)
  • Will begin production of the Chevrolet Tracker at its joint venture in Uzbekistan this year. (Wards Auto)
  • GM executives said they had decided not to go all-aluminium for the latest generation Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra full size pick up trucks after seeing Assembly challenges and looking at alternative materials. GM now says it has a cost advantage of “thousands of dollars” over F-150. (Reuters)

July

  • Applied for the Buick Envision to be excluded from newly imposed US tariffs on China-sourced vehicles, arguing that sales were insufficient to justify US manufacture and profits supported US jobs. (Reuters)
  • Badging some models as Tripower (previously associated with performance) to highlight the use of three fuel-saving technologies: cylinder deactivation; active thermal management and variable valve control. (Car Buzz)
  • Announced a peer-to-peer scheme for Maven that will let owners of 2015 or later GM vehicles add their cars to the service. GM suggested that owners of Camaros could make $19,278 renting their car for 12 weeks of the year, and Cruze owners could make $6,400. (GM)
  • Started trials with robo gloves in US factories. (3D Printing)

Q2 2018 Financial Results

  • Reported financial results for Q2 2018. Revenue of $36.8 billion was slightly down versus Q2 2017, with deliveries of 2.1 million vehicles slightly up (excluding Opel / Vauxhall from the prior year number). Adjusted EBIT of $3.195 billion was down by (20)%, more than explained by weaker mix and cost pressures. The company revised its full year guidance downwards. (GM)

June

  • Transferred ownership of its Vietnamese manufacturing operations to VinFast, who will also gain the local Chevrolet import concession. (VinFast)
  • Created a special pricing offer for emergency service workers in the US. This is the second move in recent months by GM to expand discounts to select groups -- it previously expanded eligibility for former service personnel. (GM)
  • Investing $175 million in the Lansing, USA plant to install equipment for the new sedan that replaces the ATS and CTS. (Detroit News)
  • Reported that installing a $35,000 3D printer at one factory had led to cost savings of over $300,000 for new tooling, plus reductions in downtime. (3D Printing Industry)
  • Reportedly considering a listing of Cruise, but not until the business has developed further. (Bloomberg)
  • Announced a new CFO, effective 1st (GM)
  • Released its latest sustainability report. (GM)
  • GM’s CEO said the company has no projects underway with Lyft. (Reuters)
  • GM and Honda agreed to collaborate on next generation batteries. The partners will use GM’s battery chemistry as the basis for the collaboration and the intent is for GM to supply Honda with battery packs. (Honda)
  • Will offer (hands off highway driving) SuperCruise on all Cadillac products by 2020 and begin rollout to other GM vehicles after that. Cadillac also plans to have V2X capability on some vehicles by 2023. (GM)
  • GM’s top powertrain executive said diesels can “still play a role for years to come”, especially in the US market where they can improve the fuel economy of pick-up trucks. (Automotive News)

May

  • Announced it had sold a 19.6% stake in Cruise to SoftBank for $2.25 billion (performance dependent), valuing Cruise at $11.5 billion. GM will also invest a $1.1 billion, providing Cruise with almost $3.5 billion to prepare for the deployment of vehicles. (GM)
  • Extended eligibility criteria for its discount program for US military personnel to three years after discharge. (GM)
  • Announced the restructuring plan for its South Korean unit, which GM hopes will return to profit by 2019. Two new vehicles (an SUV and a crossover) and an I3 engine will be developed and manufactured there. (GM)
  • South Korean government agencies were less bullish on GM’s turnaround plan for the country, saying a third party assessment forecast the unit would not be profitable until 2022. Even so, the government appeared happy enough to provide $750 million in funding for GM’s investment because it gains a 10 year veto over asset sales. (Reuters)
  • GM’s strategy chief says that personalised autonomous cars will be “big business”, particularly for customers in rural areas where the company believes ride hailing will take a long time to propagate. May partner with “one company, several companies or no companies” for autonomous ride hailing, particularly influenced by the network effects the company has observed -- GM believes that unless there is sufficient fleet density to deliver an on-demand ride within 5 minutes, customers will look elsewhere. GM is also looking at how to join up trips starting in a geo-fenced AV area but ending outside it. GM says it will take around 6 months to enter a new market with AVs. (GM)

April

  • Autonomous vehicle AI provider Algolux raised $10 million, led by GM Ventures. (FINSMES)
  • Said that 3D printing could reduce the weight of structural body components by 40%, whilst improving strength. The press release implied that GM intends to incorporate the technology into vehicles currently under development. (GM)
  • Launching an additional (third) shift -- about 700 jobs -- at Spring Hill from September 2018 in response to the popularity of the GMC Acadia and Cadillac XT5 products built there, reversing the elimination of the same shift about a year ago. (GM)
  • GM Korea won significant concessions from unions and additional government funding in last-ditch negotiations, with the threat of bankruptcy looming. (Reuters)
  • Announced a new credit facility that maintains the $14.5 billion available to the automotive division and creates a new $2 billion 364-day agreement to be used by GM Financial. (GM)
  • The head of the Cadillac brand abruptly resigned, citing “philosophical differences”. (Bloomberg)
  • Revealed the all-electric Buick Enspire concept in China, previewing a likely forthcoming new model. (Electrek)
  • Will cut production of the Chevrolet Cruze to one shift from July 2018 at its Lordstown plant, with 1,500 jobs to go as a consequence. Cutting one shift at Ohio plant. (Business Standard)
  • EVgo announced that it would build a dedicated charging network for GM’s US Maven car sharing service to support the Maven Gig product for ride hailing drivers. (EVgo)
  • GM Korea said that if its restructuring plan were approved then production of the Spark would cease in 2022 and be replaced with a crosser. Talks aren’t going particularly well, with a group of workers trashing executive offices in protest at the company’s decision not to pay bonuses. (Reuters)
  • GM’s Cruise self-driving unit announced the hiring of the team from Zippy.ai, a delivery robot start-up. (GM)
  • Didn’t specifically deny rumours of plans to cease production of Chevrolet Sonic and Impala but said it would retain a presence in US car segments, citing the size of the sales volume. (Detroit News)
  • Moving to quarterly, rather than monthly, US sales reporting to avoid having to explain seasonal effects. (GM)
  • Reportedly proposed to end a shift at one of its South Korean plants, a move unions say they will oppose. (Reuters)

Q1 2018 Earnings

  • Reported Q1 2018 financial results. Revenue of $36.1 billion was down (3.1)% from prior year (excluding the loss of Opel / Vauxhall) and adjusted EBIT of $1.1 billion was down (58.7)%. The company mainly blamed planned production stoppages in North America to allow launch of a new range of pick up trucks. (GM)
  • Sold 715,794 vehicles in North America in Q1 2018, an increase of 3.8% over Q1 2017. (GM)

March

  • Gave unions in South Korea an ultimatum: the company will declare bankruptcy in the country if there is no agreement by April 20th that cuts labour costs enough to allocate a new model program. (Reuters)
  • Newer Cadillac models are seemingly not being offered with GM’s L2 Super Cruise driver assistance system, with limited explanation from company spokespeople. (The Verge)
  • A Cruise test vehicle received a citation from San Francisco police for driving too close to a pedestrian, although GM disputed that there was any safety issue, the police replied that they rely on the observations of their personnel rather than any data output from the car. (Business Insider)
  • Reportedly planning peer-to-peer short term rentals through Maven -- although new to the US, GM had a scheme in Europe when Opel ran a service underpinned by Tamya called “Car Unity”. (Bloomberg)
  • Investing $100 million to update the factory that makes the Chevrolet Bolt, giving it the capability to produce the autonomous version starting in 2019. The investment will also create a sensor suite assembly line nearby. (GM)
  • Will increase Bolt production capacity, but didn’t provide any targets, leading to speculation about whether or not the announcement was significant. (GM)
  • Has reportedly received around 2,500 applicants for its redundancy package in South Korea and is looking to eventually cut 5,000 posts. The figure is significant because it is greater than the number of employees at the plant GM has already said it will close (about half of the staff there have applied -- the rest could transfer). (Reuters)
  • Researchers released a video of a Chevrolet Bolt battery pack teardown -- they say the battery capacity is 57 kWh, not the 60 kWh stated by GM. (Green Car Reports)

February

  • Will build the Cadillac XT4 at its Fairfax plant in Kansas. (US News)
  • Will reportedly keep its Oshawa, Canada plant on a single shift until late May, longer than previously expected. (Globe and Mail)
  • Planning an extended summer shutdown at its Flint truck plant in order to increase capacity. (Detroit Bureau)
  • Will invest 1.2 billion Brazilian reals in its Sao Caetano do Sul plant to increase capacity from 250,000 units annually to 330,000 units. (GM)
  • Convened meetings with South Korean politicians and labour leaders in an attempt to finalise a plan to make operations in the country viable. Amongst the reported initiatives were a fresh injection of funds by GM, government support and wage freezes. In return, GM may allocate two new vehicles to factories in the country. (Reuters)
  • Closing the Gunsan, South Korea, plant. The company said that in the last three years plant utilisation has been around 20%. Shutting down operations will cost $375 million in employee payouts, with another $475 million of asset write-offfs. The company said performance in South Korea needed to improve with a concrete plan by the end of February -- suggesting it close other factories if necessary. (GM)
  • South Korean officials were apparently taken by surprise by GM’s announcement with insiders saying that trust with the company had collapsed. (Reuters)
  • GM Ventures invested in Yoshi, a callout car maintenance and refuelling service. (FINSMES)

January

  • Being sued over a collision between a motorcycle and a Cruise-operated Chevrolet Bolt. GM (citing the police report) say the motorcyclist is responsible for cutting into the Bolt’s lane; he says it was driving erratically. (Engadget)
  • Guided financial results for 2018 to be in line with 2017, after which they will improve (page 36). Interestingly, the company didn’t see currency and commodity prices as remarkable -- in contrast to Ford (page 35). (GM)
  • Said that material choice in the new full size pick-up truck had helped it achieve a 450 lb / 205 kg weight reduction “without a cost penalty” (page 29). (GM)
  • Announced the full-size Silverado pick-up will get a 3.0 litre diesel engine, joining offerings from Ram and the recently unveiled Ford F-150. (Detroit Free Press)
  • Unveiled a Bolt without a steering wheel, and requested permission to use the vehicle on public roads in the US. Following Waymo’s example, the company released a “safety report” that explains the workings of an autonomous vehicle without providing any technical substance beyond widely-agreed and long-standing principles. (GM)

2017

2017 Full Year Earnings

  • Reported financial results for 2017; a net loss due to sale of Opel / Vauxhall and tax changes were not included in GM’s headline adjusted EBIT of $12.8 billion. (GM)
  • Announced 2017 sales results for USA (GM), Canada (GM) and China (GM). GM sold 3,002,241 vehicles in the US, a decrease of (1.3)% on a year-over-year basis. Only GMC saw an increase in the US, with many car models suffering. A high point was Bolt deliveries of 23,297 cars. In China, sales were up 4.4% YoY, and with 4,040,789 units sold, represents GM’s biggest market by some margin.

December

  • Launched an online payments and reservation service called Marketplace that is integrated with the vehicle instrument panel. GM claimed the product as a world-first but it wasn’t clear how it is materially different to offerings from the likes of Ford and PSA. (GM)
  • Scheduled downtime at the Oshawa, Canada assembly plant due to weak sales of the Chevrolet Impala and Cadillac XTS made there. (Automotive News)

November

  • Held its much-vaunted presentation and test drive of autonomous vehicle technology developed by Cruise. GM intends to have “thousands” of autonomous vehicles on the road in 2019. During the presentation, executives said the annual run rate of revenue would be measured in billions “pretty quickly” (webcast 1:25:00) and that the business would operate with a 20% - 30% margin. The company’s financial projections are based on “north of 50%” utilisation. Executives also said GM believes that “price is the dominant factor” in customers choosing different transport solutions. (1:34:00). Reaction to the event was mixed. Few rides earned rave reviews (see a selection below) and GM seemed at pains to compare itself favourably to Waymo’s efforts. At the same time, executives demurred whenever they were asked about objective benchmarks of performance, implying that they hand them at their fingertips but didn’t want to share. (GM)
  • GM Korea unions, concerned at the negative impact of Opel’s transformation plan (which will bring work in-house), are pressing the company to guarantee replacement products. (Wards)
  • CEO Mary Barra said at an investor conference that the next two all-electric vehicles will be Bolt-based crossovers, one of which will be a Buick. The company will then launch an all-new EV platform in 2021 that it expects to reduce costs by over 30% -- at which stage the company expects EVs to be profitable. (GM)
  • Said that its sales of new energy vehicles in China by 2019 would be high enough that it could avoid purchasing credits. (Reuters)
  • Issued a recall for fuel leaks in almost 49,000 Sierra and Silverado pick-up trucks. (USA Today)
  • The “Book by Cadillac” monthly leasing scheme is expanding to two additional markets (beyond the New York pilot): Dallas and Los Angeles. (GM)
  • Will host an investor event on November 30th to “share our vision for an autonomous future”. (GM)
  • A review of the Super Cruise system being fitted to Cadillacs found that the vehicle’s facial recognition (intended to ensure that the driver is concentrating on the road) cannot recognise some beverage type and still has problems in difficult lighting conditions. (Detroit Free Press)
  • Cruise invited media to an event on 28th November, expected to be a Waymo-like demonstration. (TechCrunch)

Q3 Earnings

  • Reported Q3 financial results. The sale of Opel / Vauxhall significantly affected reported headline figures -- a net loss of $(3.0) billion. Adjusted EBIT was $2.5 billion. GM will also stop reporting South American and Asian regions separate from one another from Q4 2017 onwards. (GM)

October

  • Think that they will be ready to take the driver out of a vehicle in “quarters, not years”. GM also said that the cost base in South Korea “has grown to where it’s not sustainable”. (GM -- Webcast)
  • Cruise Automation will begin testing in New York in early 2018. The vehicles will have safety drivers at the wheel. (New York Governor)
  • Reached a settlement with 49 US states over defective ignition switches. GM will pay a total of $120 million. The recall actions to correct the problems have already taken place. (Detroit News)
  • In an interview GM’s president said that it was unlikely to make further acquisitions for its self-driving car business or that it was planning to spin-off any mobility business from the main company. (Reuters)
  • Said that it was buying lidar company Strobe to help it bring self-driving vehicles to market “sooner than many think”. Strobe’s engineering team will become part of the Cruise Automation unit. (GM)
  • Reached an agreement with Canadian unions that it hopes will end a strike. Employees have yet to vote on the terms, which will probably be made public next week. (Detroit News)
  • Will reduce production at its Detroit Hamtramck plant due to slowing demand. The factory will reduce output from October 20th to November 20th and then shutdown completely until at least the end of the year. (Detroit News)
  • Will invest $79 million in the Flint Assembly plant and construct a new building on the site. GM said the move would preserve existing jobs but not create new ones. (Michigan Live)
  • Will invest $300 million in its Alvear, Argentina plant to produce a new Chevrolet model starting in 2020. (Reuters)
  • Said that it will launch 20 all-electric vehicles by 2023, with the next two due within 18 months. GM implied that this number may include fuel cell powered electric vehicles in addition to BEVs. (GM)
  • GM’s head of product development said that future generations of all-electric vehicles “will be profitable”. (Faconauto)
  • Displayed an autonomous fuel cell platform called SURUS for heavy commercial and potentially military applications. The company said that it is evaluating applications for the product which is a scaled-up version of the 2002 AUTOnomy concept (click for details). (GM)
  • Deutsche Bank analyst Rod Lache caused a stir by saying that management wouldn’t rule out spin-off of the mobility business (which he values at around $30 billion) in discussions he held with them and that he had been left with the impression that GM’s AVs would be ready for commercial operation much sooner that most were expecting. (Bloomberg)
  • GM’s director of autonomous vehicle integration reportedly said that Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s promises of autonomous driving were “full of crap”. His criticism centred on Tesla’s technology choices because Tesla appear determined not to fit lidar, which GM view as absolutely necessary. (Business Insider)
  • The CEO of Cruise said that GM was making “rapid progress” on self-driving cars but wouldn’t commit to a timescale for deployment. (Reuters)
  • Announced that it would consolidate its management structure to have only three regions -- North America, China and International. (GM)

September

  • Saw workers go on strike at its Ontario, Canada plant after the company refused to give the plant the assurances that unions has demanded. (Detroit News)
  • Will end the night shift at its Spring Hill, Tennessee, plant due to slower industry -- about 1,000 employees will be affected. (Detroit News)
  • The CEO of GM subsidiary Cruise Automation said that the company’s 3rd generation product was ready for mass-production. (Medium)
  • Labour negotiations in South Korea are reportedly not going well (again), leading to speculation of strikes around the end of the year affecting GM Korea. Workers are asking for pay rises and a substantial bonus. (Wards Auto)
  • At an investment bank conference, the head of the mobility program said that Maven Gig vehicles had an average utilisation rate of 60% on hourly leases and 40% on daily leases. She also said that she believes the company currently has no competition in terms of the breadth of activities it is undertaking around mobility services. She sees Maven’s fleet as being 2/3 electric “going forward”. (GM -- Audio only)

August

  • Said that Super Cruise (GM’s L2/L3 highway driving solution) would be a $5,000 option on base models of the Cadillac CT6, although it will come as standard on higher end vehicles (Automotive News).
  • Saw CEO Mary Barra named to Disney’s board. Although possibly a distraction, Disney’s own fight with disruption (=Netflix) may give Barra useful perspective on how car making needs to change. (Detroit News)
  • Said it would recall a small amount of early production build Bolts to correct problems where the vehicle overstates the remaining range. GM has to replace the entire battery pack in order to fix the issue..
  • Announced just over $600 million of investments in its Joinville, Brazil, factory. (Reuters)
  • GM’s VP for urban mobility gave an interview about the performance and growth of Maven. She was asked whether the unit was profitable and replied that there was more than 100% return on investment without being clear on the rationale. (Economic Times of India)
  • Said it will delist from the Toronto stock exchange effective November 30th (GM)
  • Said that its Maven Gig service would expand the number of battery electric Bolt vehicles available in key markets. According to Maven, Bolts are driven on average 30% further each day than comparable ICE vehicles. (Electrek)
  • Cruise unveiled a ride-hailing service called Cruise Anywhere which its employees have been using to summon self-driving vehicles around San Francisco. Cruise said that the ultimate aim was to open the service to the public after extensive testing. (TechCrunch)
  • May have to give $1 billion of stock to “Old GM”, the trust that owns the remnants of the pre-Chapter 11 bankruptcy firm if Old GM accepts responsibility for a historic safety concern. Doing so would push total safety liabilities above a threshold agreed in 2009 that requires GM to contribute the additional $1 billion. (Detroit News)
  • Was forced to deny that it is seriously considering closing its operations in South Korea. (Chosun Ibo)
  • Will recall 800,000 2014MY pick-up trucks due to problems with power steering. (The Guardian)
  • Announced the closure of the deal to sell the automotive business of Opel and Vauxhall to PSA (financial business sale is ongoing). The press release re-affirmed that PSA and GM will work together on electric propulsion. (GM)

July

  • Researchers uncovered GM patents for self-cleaning autonomous vehicles. The ideas appear to include vehicles with integrated vacuum cleaners and steam cleaning as well as sensors to tell if the car is dirty. (Auto Guide)
  • Announced shutdowns at plants including Orion Assembly where the Bolt BEV and Sonic C car are built. The move was already expected as GM had said they would reduce inventories in Q3. Comments by workers on social media indicated that part of the downtime would be spent increasing Bolt production. (More…) Media reporting disagreed on whether or not this was correct with some indicating Bolt was suffering over-supply. (More…)
  • Took part in the $159 million series C financing of autonomous vehicle technology company Nauto, alongside BMW and Toyota. GM was already an investor. (More…)
  • Is reviewing its line-up in North America to reflect changes in powertrain and model mix. The UAW said that it was in talks with the company on how to address under-utilised plants and media reports speculated that six passenger cars could be dropped, including the Chevrolet Volt PHEV (which might stay as a nameplate but become an SUV) and Sonic (build alongside Bolt BEV). (More…)
  • Vauxhall has launched fixed price urea top ups for SCR equipped diesel vehicles. (..)
  • Reported June sales figures for the USA. Total sales of 243,155 vehicles was down about (5)% on a year-over-year basis. GM tried to draw attention to areas where it was out-performing rivals: lower incentive spending and fewer sales to rental companies (memo: inventory at GM is currently far higher than domestic rivals). (More…)
  • Three workers were injured in an explosion at the Hamtramck assembly plant (all are expected to recover). Production was unaffected by the incident. (More…)

Q2 Earnings

  • Reported Q2 2017 financial results. Adjusted EBIT of $3.68 billion was down from $3.85 billion in the prior year. Part of the explanation was increased spending on “Corporate” activities which include the company’s mobility efforts. Opel/Vauxhall were reported as discontinued operations so are not in the headline figures. (GM)

June

  • Held a conference call to give an update on its financial forecast for the Opel / Vauxhall sale and US industry. The Opel / Vauxhall sale will incur $5.5 billion of special charges (up from $4.5 billion) and that from Q2 onwards the business will be reported as “discontinued operations”. GM also gave details of the way that profits and revenues will be impacted by the sale. US industry is now expected by GM to be in the “low 17 [millions]” as opposed to “min 17 [millions]” previously -- the main trends are a weakness in passenger car sales and lower residual values. GM plans considerable inventory reductions for passenger cars by year end versus its current position. (More…)
  • Indicated that it was looking at ways to involve its dealers in the servicing and fleet management of autonomous vehicles. (More…)
  • After completing its three year supervision period by the NHTSA (US road safety body) following the ignition recall scandal, GM proposed a new voluntary oversight framework. (..)
  • As rumoured, the CEO of Opel confirmed that he will be stepping down. Although he remains with Opel for a transitionary period, he is no longer the CEO and has been replaced by the CFO Michael Lohscheller. (..). PSA support the appointment. (More...)
  • PSA CEO Tavares gave an interview where he said that following the closure of the deal to buy Opel and Vauxhall, a profitability plan would be created within the first 100 days and the incumbent team would be told to implement it. It was speculated that this could mean presentation of the plan at the Frankfurt motorshow in September. Tavares said that the only way that employees could be protected was by being profitable. (More…)
  • Opel unveiled a new “credo”, defining the brand in five simple words: “the future is everyone’s”. Alongside this, the brand has also updated its logo, there is a new Opel Blitz. Both changes coincide with the launch of the Insignia CD car. (More…)
  • Will reportedly extend shutdown at two US factories due to lower demand. Lordstown, Ohio (Chevrolet Cruze), and Kansas City (Chevrolet Malibu) will close for up to 5 weeks versus the normal two week shutdown period. (More…)
  • Is reportedly in discussions with Mahindra & Mahindra to have them take over servicing of legacy GM vehicles once it stops sales operations in India and closes its dealerships. (More…)
  • Declared itself to be the first company to “use mass-production methods” to build autonomous vehicles as it completed a batch of 150 Bolt cars. (More…)
  • Will change the way it manages charitable donations. The General Motors Foundation will close and efforts will be directed through GM Global Corporate Giving. (More…)
  • Confirmed that it has a nominal selling price for a replacement Bolt battery pack. The cost is set at $15,734.29. GM does not expect battery packs to be sold, citing its warranty policy for Bolt vehicles. (More…)
  • Said that 100% of GM India employees who were offered separation packages have accepted. (More…)
  • Saw media speculation that Cruise is seeking to build its own high definition maps. The story is based on vacancies posted by the company and could be around mapping integration. (More…)
  • The sale of Opel / Vauxhall to PSA may reportedly be completed sooner than expected (end of July) (..). It was also reported that current Opel CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann will resign at the time of sale rather than stay with the company under PSA’s ownership (More…)
  • GM’s annual general meeting saw Greenlight Capital’s proposal for two types of stock comprehensively defeated. (..)
  • GM’s dealers in India may reportedly sue in US courts over the way that the company’s withdrawal from the Indian market is impacting their business. (..)
  • Reported May US sales. Total sales of 237,364 units was down 1% year-over-year. Retail, commercial (fleet) and government sales were up, partially offset by lower daily rental sales. (..)
  • Said that it will reduce from two to one shift at its Warren Transmission Plant (USA) due to lower car sales. (..)

May

  • A class action lawsuit was filed in the US alleging GM had installed “defeat devices” in Duramax branded diesel vehicles since 2011. There is currently no suggestion from the EPA that GM did use defeat devices. (..). GM said that the claims were baseless and the company would “vigorously defend” itself. (More…)
  • GM’s manager of vehicle and advanced technology policy said that companies that did not pursue collaborative solutions to on-demand mobility would have a “rude awakening”. (..)
  • Made some major changes to its International Operators division, which it expects will realise annual savings of around $100 million. GM will stop selling Chevrolet vehicles in India, although car production there will continue -- focused on exports (to Mexico, Central and South America). GM will sell its GM South Africa light commercial vehicle manufacturing operation to Isuzu and stop producing and selling Chevrolet vehicles there (this follows an earlier sale of GM East Africa assets to Isuzu). Special Items of about $500 million will be reported as a consequence. (..)
  • Media reported on the small supply of Ampera-e vehicles in Europe. Opel reportedly has only trained 40 electric car specialists in Germany (there are around 2,400 dealers) and the car will only be available via leasing. Outright purchase will not be an option. (..)
  • Lyft, in which GM holds a significant stake, confirmed it had agreed to work together on deployment of autonomous vehicles with Alphabet’s (Google) Waymo. Lyft said that Waymo holds “today’s best self-driving technology”. It was unclear what effect this would have on GM’s plan for Lyft to deploy vehicles using technology from GM’s Cruise subsidiary. (..)
  • Said that it was making an industry leading commitment to use tyres sourced from sustainable rubber but did not give a commitment for when it would reach that goal. (..)
  • Bloomberg profiled the strategy and actions of CEO Mary Barra and President Dan Ammann to withdraw from unprofitable markets and products. (..)
  • Cadillac’s President gave an interview where he said that the brand was growing in line with plan and that moving the headquarters to New York had been a success. (..)
  • Announced that layoffs at its Delta township plant would be lower than previously speculated (about 600 jobs will be lost rather than the 1,100 figure from March). (..)
  • Said that it was making better than expected progress on reducing battery cost. GM said that against a previous target of $100 per kWh for a battery cell by 2022, GM’s head of product development Mark Reuss said “we’ll be there before then, I know we will”. Reuss also said that GM is trying to reduce the Bolt’s weight in order to have the same range with fewer battery cells. (..)
  • Said that April sales in the USA fell by almost 6% year-over-year. (..)
  • Announced the deconsolidation of its Venezuelan business due to the seizure of its plant and said that it expected this to result in a charge of “up to approximately $100 million”. (..)
  • Made a further statement about the proposal from Greenlight to split its stock into different categories saying that it was still not in favour (Greenlight had accused GM of not being objective and subsequently sent a letter to GM’s shareholders saying that their proposal would improve the stock price, which could be very important in the future). (..)
  • Opel confirmed that the next-generation Corsa is being designed on the PSA B-Car platform. This could allow the vehicle to be built in several factories if necessary. (..)
  • Announced a new program called Maven Gig. The idea is for drivers to rent cars that will allow them to carry out delivery services such as for packages or food. Maven has relationships with GrubHub (food delivery) and Instacart (groceries) amongst others. (..)

April

  • Ford and GM expressed public support for President Donald Trump’s proposed tax reforms. (..)
  • CEO Mary Barra tried to dampen speculation about her future (political posts may beckon) by saying she was “150%” committed to GM. (..)
  • UK unit Vauxhall was criticised by UK MPs for its slow recall of vehicles at risk of fires. (..)
  • Reported the seizure of its plant in Venezuela, with the result that it has now ceased operations in the country. The company will now try to separate its 2,678 workers. (..)
  • Made the Bolt available in the US nationwide for $329 per month with a $3,800 deposit (36 months / 15k miles per year. Rates in some states are lower than this. (..)
  • At the same conference as the CEO of Volvo North America said that driverless cars will result in lower vehicle production, GM’s executive director of global connected customers and public policy said that GM does not expect a major impact for at least another 10 years. (..)
  • California announced $8 million of tax credits for GM on the understanding that GM will invest $14 million and hire more than 1,100 people on self-driving cars (Cruise Automation). (..)
  • Saw activist shareholder Greenlight Capital continue its campaign for further influence by announcing the 3 nominees to GM’s Board that it had previously threatened. Greenlight also said that GM had presented a “one sided and flawed analysis” of its proposal. (..)
  • Provided further details of its “Supercruise” system (roughly similar to Tesla Autopilot) to be launched in the Cadillac CT6. (..)
  • Following on from similar warnings made by Ford (in 2016), GM warned that used vehicle values are declining faster than anticipated and this will affect profits at its financing unit. (Source)
  • Said it set a delivery record for China in March if 345,448 vehicles, up 16% year-over-year. (Source)
  • BlaBlaCar announced a scheme where drivers can lease Opel vehicles at discounted levels (Source)
  • The relationship between Opel / Vauxhall and the German Works Council seems to have improved and the Works Council has reduced its public statements threatening strikes (Source). This followed a press release where GM tried to provide reassurance about the process towards the sale. (Source)
  • German prosecutors said they had concluded Opel did not use any diesel emission cheating software. (Source)

Q1 Earnings

  • Reported Q1 2017 revenue of $41.2 billion, up 10.6% year-over-year and adjusted EBIT of $3.4 billion, up 27.9%. (..)

March

  • Rejected a proposal from activist investor Greenlight Capital to create a dual share structure involving dividend-only stock. The proposal will still likely be submitted by Greenlight at the 2017 AGM
  • Reached a deal to import cars into Argentina from South Korea through the port at Rosario and said its intention is to export vehicles from its Argentinian plant.
  • Vauxhall will end its sponsorship of the four UK national football teams after the World Cup in 2018.
  • Opel’s Works Council reportedly has threatened strike action unless they receive written (as opposed to verbal) assurances about protecting Opel’s workforce post-takeover.