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General Motors

General Motors is a United States-based automobile maker with worldwide operations and brands including Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Daewoo, 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 ACDelco, Allison Transmission, and General Motors Electro-Motive Division that produces diesel-electric locomotives. GM also has stakes in Isuzu, Subaru, and Suzuki in Japan, Fiat, Alfa Romeo, and Lancia in Italy, Daewoo in South Korea, Delta in South Africa. It also has a joint venture with Auto Vaz (Lada) in Russia.

Headquarters are in Detroit, Michigan.

General Motors 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.

The current Chairman (since May 1, 2003) and Chief Executive Officer (since June 1, 2000) is Rick Wagoner. The previous one was John F. Smith, Jr


General Motors was founded in 1908 as a holding company for Buick,by then controlled by William C. Durant, and acquired Oldsmobile later that year.

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 internal combustion engined railcar builder Electro-Motive Corporation and its engine supplier Winton Engine in 1930, renaming both as the General Motors Electro-Motive Division. Over the next twenty years diesel-powered locomotives and trains, the majority built by GM, largely replaced other forms of traction on American railroads. This encouraged the use of fossil fuels and made it difficult to change social policies of energy generation.

According to the General Motors Streetcar Conspiracy, General Motors acquired and converted streetcars to buses in order to promote the automobile. See that article for a fuller discussion.

General Motors supported opposing sides during World War II. According to a report presented to the United States Senate in 1974 by the same person who advanced the GM streetcar conspiracy, 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.

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