General Motors: How Much Do You Really Know About One of the World's Largest Car and Truck Manufacturers?

By: Steven Symes
Image: YouTube

About This Quiz

Do you know which city General Motors (GM) calls home? Or, what year the automaking giant was founded? Do you know which car company was the first to become part of the GM family? Or, do you know how long it took the company to sell its first 50 million vehicles? If you know the answers to all of these questions, you might have what it takes to ace this General Motors quiz!

GM founder William Durant hated cars; he found them noisy and annoying. Despite this, he not only owned a car company -- Buick -- but went on to found one of the biggest car companies in the history of the industry. At the start of the 20th century, there were only around 8,000 cars in the entire U.S. Durant had made a fortune selling horseless carriages, but saw money in autos.

As the owner of Buick, he was one of more than 45 different car company heads in the U.S. at the time. Most of the carmakers were small and tended to fail quickly, often taking customers' deposits with them. Durant saw an opportunity to take advantages of economies of scale by bringing many of these companies under a single umbrella. In 1908, he founded GM, and within two years, more than 11 different car makers had signed on to join -- including Oldsmobile, Cadillac and an early precursor to Pontiac. 

Just half a century later, GM controlled more than 50 percent of the U.S. car market. Fifty years after that, they declared bankruptcy. Think you know all about the rise, fall and rebirth of this auto behemoth? Take our quiz to find out!

Where is GM's global headquarters?

The Motor City, Detroit, is still the home of General Motors. While that's the main headquarters, the automaker has many other offices spread around the United States and the globe.

Which of the following is not a brand owned by GM?

General Motors is so big, it boasts eight brands in operation today: Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cadillac, Holden, Jiefang, Wuling and Baojun.

Which of the following is a brand GM has not owned in the past?

Ford has owned Lincoln for some time, but General Motors has owned a wide range of brands throughout the years. Many of them are no longer around today.

How many vehicles did GM place in the hands of customers in 2016?

To give you an idea of why GM is still considered one of the largest automakers in the world, its global sales total from 2016 dwarfs what many competitors were able to achieve.

Which automaker has GM teamed up with to manufacture hydrogen fuel cells in Michigan?

You might think a joint venture between GM and Honda sounds strange, but there's been increasing talk that these two might one day enter a full collaborative arrangement, similar to Nissan and Renault. For now, they're sticking with making fuel cell stacks for next-generation vehicles.

How many GM dealerships are there in the world?

GM has quite the dealership network, thanks to its owning eight different brands. Some dealers only sell one or two brands, while others offer more. All in all, these dealerships operate in 125 countries.

About how many vehicles does GM sell in China each year?

With China being the biggest single automotive market in the entire world, it's a top priority for GM. That's why the company is looking to complete construction on several new factories there.

What GM vehicle has gone into space?

GM worked with NASA on creating the Lunar Rover, which had a revolutionary design. It's the only car to have driven on the moon at all.

Which GM car is often referred to as America's Sports Car?

The Corvette has become a symbol of American cars, freedom and the forefront of performance. Many people flock to the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky for that very reason.

How many people does GM employ?

With operations spread over six continents, General Motors is big. Of course, even more people work for GM dealerships throughout the world, which are franchised, meaning those people aren't employees of General Motors.

Who is the current CEO of GM?

Back in January of 2014, Mary Barra rose to the position of CEO. In January of 2016, she was elected chairman of the board, demonstrating how successful she's been at the helm of GM.

The most recent GM safety scandal involved what kind of faulty part?

Several years ago, GM engineers uncovered evidence that an ignition switch was faulty. Rather than address the problem, they fixed it on subsequent models. As a result, 13 people died from crashes caused by the switches.

What was the original name of Pontiac back when GM first bought it?

Back in 1909, GM bought Oakland Motor Car Company as well as Cadillac. It was during the Great Recession that GM then closed up Pontiac as a brand forever.

What year did GM file for bankruptcy?

Back in July of 2009, after receiving controversial bailout money from the federal government, GM declared bankruptcy. Many credit the current success of the company with the reorganization that was made possible by declaring bankruptcy.

What famous activist did GM have detectives investigate?

Back in 1965, Ralph Nader published a report called Unsafe at Any Speed. It pointed out big problems with the Chevrolet Corvair, and GM didn't take kindly to that.

When did Chevrolet become a part of GM?

William Durant, founder of GM, also helped found Chevrolet back in 1911. Just 7 years later he brought Chevy under the GM umbrella, and the rest is history.

What company founded by Ross Perot did GM buy?

Back in 1984, GM made the move to buy Electronic Data Systems Coproration, a deal that cost the automaker $2.5 billion.

What mechanical body part did GM create first?

Back in 1952, engineers at GM figured out how to create an artificial heart pump. As a result, open heart surgery was born, helping to save countless lives around the world.

Besides North America, where else are GMC vehicles sold?

People in the Middle East can't get enough of the professional grade trucks and SUVs from GMC. In fact, sales from that region are pretty healthy, which is great news for GM.

What did GM do during WWII?

During WWII, GM outpaced every other manufacturer in the United States by churning out $12 billion in items like airplanes, tanks, boat engines, and more. You could say the automaker was key to the Allied victory

What vehicle did GM create for Disneyland?

While we don't think of GM producing trains these days, back in the 1950s the company was seriously exploring that proposition. A mini version of the demo Aerotrain engine and passenger cars ended up in Disneyland, where the train was named the Viewliner.

What GM vehicle is treated as the first hydrogen fuel cell model ever made?

GM jumped way ahead of itself and the industry back in 1966 when it created the Electrovan. Many people believe it was the first hydrogen fuel cell vehicle ever made, a technology the company is still developing.

What vehicle braking technology did GM develop?

Anti-lock brakes or ABS were first revealed by GM back in 1972, revolutionizing panic stops for drivers across the globe.

What stopped GM from buying Ford in 1909?

GM CEO Durant was able to talk Henry Ford into the deal for a cool $8 million, which was quite a bit back then. It was the New York bankers Durant used who nixed the transaction by not ponying up the cash.

What home comfort device was developed under GM?

Frigidaire, which was a subsidiary of GM, developed the first room air conditioner back in 1929. We've been enjoying cool temperatures in the summer ever since.

Which GM brand was the first in the industry to use a V-8 engine?

Way back in 1914, Cadillac got the idea of arranging two cylinder banks in a V formation, instead of just using a straight configuration. The rest is history.

What important financial achievement did GM reach in 1955?

Before any other company in the United States, GM made $1 billion in just one year's time. The automaker was such a juggernaut back then, it began to operate like failure just wasn't possible.

What two important safety tests did GM pioneer?

Way back in 1934, during the Great Depression, GM had the foresight to start testing its cars for rollover risk and barrier impact resistance, which are still factors in vehicle designs today.

What fuel delivery tech was created by GM?

While Ford has tried to claim it was the one to develop electronic fuel injection, GM is widely given credit for developing the tech way back in 1979, during the oil crisis. Cars would never be the same.

What was GM's first automatic transmission called?

Way back in 1939, GM developed and released the first automatic transmission for consumers. Automatics have slowly become the industry standard.

What role did GM play in Nazi Germany?

Before the war broke out, GM bought German automaker Opel. Exactly how much control GM had over operations with the Third Reich in power is controversial, but Opel produced quite a few military vehicles for Nazi troops.

From 1980 to 1990, how much market share did GM lose?

Thanks to the rising popularity of small Japanese vehicles from the likes of Honda, Nissan, and Toyota, plus other factors, GM saw its market share eroded from 45% to 35%.

What year did GM first sign an agreement with a labor union?

Starting in 1936 and stretching into 1937, in the midst of the Great Depression, the United Auto Workers labor union held a strike at various GM plants. The move brought the company to its knees, forcing management to sign an agreement.

The labor union strike in 1998 cost GM how much in profits?

For 54 days, the United Auto Workers held a strike, thanks to disagreements about worker conditions. It was a tough blow to the automaker, which was dealing with an increasing financial crises.

How much money did GM lose in 2008?

Shortly before requesting a controversial bailout from the federal government, GM took its largest financial loss for a single year. At this point, the automaker was about to close up shop forever.

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