The Fall of GM – a visual guide

The Fall of GM – a visual guide

Posted on 05. Jan, 2009 by in charts and graphs, economics, government

Many aspects of this graphic can apply to the rest of the Big Three but I focused on GM since they are in the most dire position.  GM has many woes, the least of which is a shortfall of money, so why do people think that an infusion of cash will do anything but prolong the agony? Stop waiving all the flags.

So here it is, a visual guide to why GM won’t be around much longer.  Unless ofcourse they can actually form a game plan to get some of these metaphorical shipping containers off their backs.  Another thing I wanted to stress is that the conversation about the decline of General Motors involves singular finger pointing. “It’s the unions”, “It’s management”.  Bottom line is you will need a lot of fingers because the root causes are plenty and the cumulative effect is what’s taking this ship down.


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  1. Barry Ritholtz, January 6, 2009:


    Thats definitely requires a post!

  2. john haskell, January 6, 2009:

    The EV-1 has no place in this diagram. It could never have been sold at a price that would have earned a profit.

  3. Jess, January 6, 2009:

    Ofcourse we all know the EV-1 was not viable as is, but it was a starting point and a leg up on the competition. Unfortunately the whole program was scrapped in 99′. Imagine another 6-7 years of development and you’d have a cheaper car with huge energy savings during a period of gas spikes. Likely outselling the Prius. But ofcourse, those are all ‘what ifs’ at this point.

  4. Aaron, January 7, 2009:

    This is a pretty good chart, but your grammar could use some work in the captions “were resisted before implemented late in the game”?

  5. taruni, January 7, 2009:

    I believe GM already has 23 or so different car models.New infusion of cash will enable GM to introduce a further 20 models of the variety nobody wants any more.
    The haughty reception I got when I walked into GM dealership (also happened at FORD)put me off American car dealers for ever.
    In a way they are headed for the destination they richly deserve to end up at.God Speed

  6. mike, January 8, 2009:

    Neat, but your graphic shows a giant crusher machine that wouldn’t work very well. The two giant gears on the left side of the crusher jaws are locked in place by a third gear. In reality none of the gears would be able to turn in that configuration, so the machine would just be stuck like that forever.

    And you also misspelled consistently as “consistantly” in the Foreign Competition block.

  7. Robin Brown, January 8, 2009:

    Fantastic graphic, I reckon you’ve got all the key points in too. Since everyone else is being pedantic you don’t need an apostrophe in SUVs though.

  8. Jeff Puthuff, January 8, 2009:

    It looks good, except consistently is misspelled.

  9. JIm Donovan, January 8, 2009:

    Impressive. I’ve told my readers about you – hopefully it may lead to some new assignments for you.

  10. Jennifer Jarratt, January 9, 2009:

    I agree with all these, plus–
    You might include the US consumer and the US/world car culture as well that, for the most part, bought what GM et al. was selling.
    GM’s long turnaround time on bringing innovation to market is a factor as well.

  11. Teqonix, January 13, 2009:

    I love this graphic! Being a business major I find I’m agreeing with pretty much everything on there – if you offer this up for sale I’ll definitely purchase a poster of it.

  12. FABIAN, January 15, 2009:




  13. Fred Campbell, January 16, 2009:

    Wow. Great content. I like stuff that makes it simple for people to think.

  14. Anna Lee Court, January 26, 2009:

    Really good at sorting out the many reasons GM is having such troubles. But then, the reasons for what happens are generally complex — lots of reasons and they are interrelated! Nice work. ALC

  15. mrtomyum, February 18, 2009:

    Great explanation!. Good work! hope to see more from you.b

  16. Ruben, March 3, 2009:

    incomplete… this should be a SWOT analysis…

  17. James, March 11, 2009:

    GM makes a great product, its to bad this country has been sold out, keep buying cars from over seas manufactures, soon there will be no jobs at all here

  18. Emenuesmoonia, April 17, 2009:

    nice, really nice!

  19. Eat-your-GM, April 22, 2009:

    Great visual, you’ve nailed a lot of the points that have killed General Motors.

    From a personal perspective, General Motors quality has been sorely lacking for 3 decades and more and now they are getting what has been coming to them all along. They burned many, many people with poor quality, gas guzzling bricks with as much driving excitment as toilet paper (Except the Corvette, Pontiac G-8 and GTO cars) But it was the dealership experience and poor poor reliability that killed it for me.

    I will never buy another GM vehicle again. This is something alot of people have already decided many years before me.

  20. Peter, June 5, 2009:

    The EV-1, Hybrid tech and Truck/SUV boxes do not belong in this diagram. These may not be good things but they are only tiny parts of the reason GM failed. Small and hybrid cars are not commercially viable enough to hold up any company. The companies that have the lead in that tech and sell hybrid cars haven’t made much money on them either. There has been no demand for smaller cars in this country since about 1985. GM has not failed to capitalize on high demand for cars they don’t produce – rather they have suffered from the lack of demand for cars of any type. And that health care box should be a LOT bigger.

  21. Mike, July 23, 2009:

    There are a couple of things that are off target.

    GM invented the Catalytic Converter and was the really the first to use. It got a log of push back form other companies because it was expensive to produce. The EV1 was never a viable option, either financially or technically. Cost a million dollars to produce, there was no market and the technology was a dead end. It was at most a proof on concept. The real reason for the demise of GM are not empathized. Yes, retiree benefits and health-care are key but the denial of the senior leadership, the constant making of excuses rather than facing market reality and of course many years of lousy cars.

  22. Florida Permit Test, July 24, 2009:

    Two things to note — The news media hasn’t mentioned that the foreign car makers already got a bail-out from their own countries. They don’t need to go to our country for the money.

    Someone sent me a forward that I really like. It says that the government should give 40 million people, over 50 and working, one million dollars each, with the requirement that they quit their jobs. This creates 40 million jobs.
    They then will pay off their mortgages or buy new homes. This is good for the banks and mortgage companies.
    They then will buy new American made cars. This will be a considerable help to the auto industry.
    Now, this plan isn’t without problems but I like the idea. Unfortunately my husband an I wouldn’t qualify, he’s retired and I don’t work outside the home. But I think this is a great solution.

  23. Scott, September 13, 2009:

    Thank goodness GM now builds and sells cars that meet and beat Japanese offerings. In quality, price and economy. Too bad Americans are not as loyal to their country as they say they are. It’s a real problem when we gripe about our own brothers, yet fail to support them.

  24. Dior Sunglass, May 25, 2010:

    Nice content. Thank you for your information.

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  28. Alex, July 21, 2011:

    Great infographic.

    Any comment as to who created it?

  29. Alex, July 21, 2011:

    I’d love one of these for my La Liga Football News site.

    Great post!

  30. y8, July 22, 2011:

    This is a pretty good chart, but your grammar could use some work in the captions “were resisted before implemented late in the game”?

  31. Jack, July 22, 2011:

    Great post, i might see how i can alter this to tie in with my Football Insight site.

  32. Rob, July 22, 2011:

    Testing Test Link

  33. Roy, September 7, 2011:

    Great infographic. Thank you for General Motors content .

  34. Edirectoria, September 20, 2011:

    Nice article. Thanks for your information.

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Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.


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