General Motors: The CAD - CAM - CAE Journey

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Case Details:

Case Code : OPER017
Case Length : 13 Pages
Period : 1990 - 2002
Organization : General Motors
Pub Date : 2002
Teaching Note : Available
Countries : India
Industry : Automobiles Manufacturing

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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"The savings are tremendous in time and material. The engineering resources - both budget and people - freed up from the productivity gains are being reapplied to bring out more new models more quickly."

- Jay Wetzel, Vice President and General Manager, GM Technical Center, commenting on the benefits derived from CAD/CAM/CAE tools, in 2001.


With earnings of US $ 1.5 billion on sales of US $ 177.3 billion, US-based General Motors (GM) was clearly the world's largest vehicle manufacturer of cars and trucks. In 2001, the company set industry sales records for truck and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) in its largest market - the US.

GM sold more than 1 million SUVs and more than 8.5 million cars and trucks, accounting for 15.1% of the world vehicle market. GM also had the credit of selling more full size pick-up trucks than any other manufacturer in the world since 1978. The company had approximately 362,000 employees all over the world. Established in 1908, GM had manufacturing operations in about 30 countries.

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Its products were sold in more than 200 countries, which included major markets such as North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Latin America, Africa and the Mideast. GM was also the owner of one of the world's largest financial services company - General Motors Acceptance Corporation (GMAC) which offered automotive, mortgage and business financing and insurance services.

GM had an extensive network of manufacturing plants in about 60 countries (Refer Table I). Since the US was the company's largest market, a majority of its products were manufactured in the US plants.

GM's popular cars and trucks include the Chevrolet, Pontiac, Buick, Oldsmobile, Cadillac, GMC, Saturn, Hummer, Saab, Opel, Vauxhall and Holden. The company marketed its parts and accessories through GM Service Parts Operations under the brands of GM, GM Goodwrench and ACDelco. GM also had its presence in vehicle communications and information services segments (Refer Exhibit I for GM's business operations) through OnStar. OnStar was an industry leader offering services like personalized assistance; hands-free, voice-activated access to cellular phones and Internet-based information. These services were available on many of the company's cars and trucks. OnStar was also used in some vehicles of Lexus (US), Acura (US) and Subaru (Japan).

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