10 Things You Didn’t Know About General Motors


The same day General Motors Co. announced plans to invest $1.3 billion in five U.S. manufacturing sites, including several in Michigan, the automaker’s chairman and CEO, Dan Akerson, addressed the National Press Club Monday about the state of the company. Below are 10 facts about General Motors, taken from Akerson’s speech, that you may not know:

  1. GM has brought IT back in house. At one point, nearly all of the company’s information technology had been outsourced, leaving GM with 23 leased or partially owned data centers. Today, the automaker has just two centers that it fully owns.
  2. Dealerships are a priority. The company has committed $3 billion to help its U.S. dealerships “create the best customer sales and service experience in the industry,” Akerson said.
  3. Customer service is improving. The time it takes to resolve complex customer issues has gone from about 28 days to a week. The goal is to get that down to one day.
  4. 4G LTE mobile broadband is on its way. Next year marks the launch of the industry’s largest deployment of 4G LTE mobile broadband in connected cars and trucks. The built-in connection will provide mobile data speeds nearly 10 times faster than 3G technologies, with benefits such as in-vehicle Wi-Fi hot spots, streaming video in the backseat, and faster application downloads.
  5. GM is positioning itself to be a leader in automotive technology. In fact, the automaker is investing more than half a billion dollars to build an information technology capability “that would make Silicon Valley proud,” Akerson said.
  6. The company has invested more than $4 billion to grow GM Financial around the world. Soon, the company will be able to provide financing in markets that account for 80 percent of GM’s sales volume.
  7. You won’t see old-fashioned pop rivets on the factory line at GM. In an effort to reduce vehicle weight to reach higher fuel economy standards, GM patented a way to spot weld aluminum. As Akerson noted, “It’s fast. It takes complexity out of our plants, and it allows us to take out about 25 pounds of rivets.”
  8. The company knows its products. So much so, that GM is getting to the point where it “can track the profitability of each car down to the serial number, no matter where it’s sold in the world,” Akerson said.
  9. Things are looking up. The company defeased some $40 billion in pension liabilities, doubled its revolving credit line, and dramatically simplified its balance sheet.
  10. It delivered 15 profitable quarters in a row. It also earned nearly $30 billion before interest and taxes during that period.

Akerson will retire in mid-January. His replacement as chairman will be GM board member Tim Solso, while Mary Barra, executive vice president of global product development and global purchasing and supply chain, will take over as CEO.