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GM Competitive Advantage And Market Share

The GM Chevrolet Bolt EV

According to the annual report dated Dec 31, 2018, General Motor (GM) had number one position in both North America and South America with 16% and 15% market share respectively. For Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa region, GM had about 9% market share which put the company at number three in terms of market share in the region. In China, GM had number two market share at 14%.

The following chart summarizes vehicles sales and market share of the company.

GM vehicle sales and market share in 2018

GM achieved its prominent market share position by having the following competitive advantages:

Vast Network of Dealerships

GM had an extremely vast network of dealers to market its vehicles and automotive parts worldwide. These outlets include distributors, dealers and authorized sales, services and parts outlets.

As of Dec 31 2018, the company had 12,509 authorized dealership according to its 2018 annual report. That is a huge network of dealership working for GM around the clocks. These dealerships are critical to GM success as they maintain the primary sales and service interface with the end customers of GM products.

To put it in perspective, Tesla had only about 400 of retails and sales outlets as of Dec 2018. The size of GM dealership is 30 times the size of that of Tesla.

Huge Investment in Research and Development

GM spends huge amount of money on research and development to develop next generation products and services in addition to improving the existing products. Besides, the company is also investing heavily in vehicle and greenhouse gas emission control, fuel economy improvement, and autonomous driving.

The research and development expenses were $7.8 billion, $7.3 billion and $6.6 billion in the years ended Dec 31, 2018, 2017 and 2016. In terms of percentage to automotive revenue, they are 5.9%, 5.5% and 4.7% respectively.

For comparison purpose, the research and development expenses for Tesla were $1.5 billion, $1.4 billion and $0.8 billion in the year ended Dec 31 2018, 2017 and 2016. In terms of percentage to automotive revenue, they are 8.1%, 14.6% and 12.5% respectively.

In short, GM spent about 5 times more than Tesla spent in research and development.

Owner of A Growing Car and Ride Sharing Platform

General Motor is the owner of Maven which is a car sharing mobile app that was created in January 2016. Maven consists of two services, namely Maven Gig and Maven Car Sharing.

Maven Gig allows members to lease vehicles to drive in any ride-sharing and delivery services (package, grocery and food) and the app works with companies such as Uber, Deliv and GrubHub. Members can choose from a wide variety of vehicles and can even choose the Chevrolet Bolt EV which includes free charging service.

Maven Car Sharing is a mobile app for car sharing where users can rent a vehicle by hourly or daily rate and at the same time lease out their GM vehicles for rental and earn money for doing it.

According to the 4Q18 annual report, Maven is available in 24 cities across the US, Canada and Australia. As of Dec 31 2018, Maven Gig and Maven Car Sharing have accumulated in aggregate over 171 million miles driven, 34 million all electric miles driven and 247,000 reservations. Maven now has over 190,000 members.

Leader in Autonomous Driving Technology

GM is actively developing its internal state-of-the-art autonomous driving technology. The company is not only investing in advance self-driving technology but also significantly testing autonomous vehicles in several cities such as San Francisco, Scottsdale and Michigan.

As a result, the company has created the SuperCruise which is a driver assistance feature that enables hands-free driving on the highway. GM plans to roll out SuperCruise to all Cadillac models by 2020.

In addition to SuperCruise, GM also created the Cruise AV in January 2018. Cruise AV is a self-driving vehicle different from any others in that it was built from the start to operate safely on its own without any driver.

Far from over, GM has also successfully invited Softbank Vision Fund to invest in GM Cruise in May 2018. GM Cruise is responsible for the development and commercialization of autonomous vehicles technology in the company.

In October 2018, both Honda and GM have agreed to work together to fund and develop a shared autonomous vehicle for GM Cruise. The purpose of this join venture is to create a shared autonomous vehicle (SAV) that can be manufactured at high volume.

Alternative Fuel Vehicles Technology

The company has a couple of alternative fuel vehicles technology such as the FlexFuel vehicles that can run on ethanol-gasoline blend fuels as well as technology that can support compressed natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).

FlexFuel vehicles have already been rolled out in US for the 2019 models to retail and fleet customers capable of operating on gasoline, E85 ethanol or any combination of the two.

In Brazil, most vehicles sold are FlexFuel vehicles capable of running on high ethanol blends.

GM Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology

In addition to biodiesel blend fuel, GM is also working on developing hydrogen fuel cell technology. The company is working on a program called the Project Driveway that used the Chevrolet Equinox fuel cell electric vehicle for real-world driving and have accumulated with more than 3 million miles of real-world driving.

GM is looking at all angles to identify business opportunity for hydrogen fuel cell technology and not ruling out the possibility of working with the US Army and Navy.

The company also signed an agreement with Honda in 2016, leveraging on Honda expertise to jointly develop next-generation fuel cell system and hydrogen storage technology, aiming for commercialization in 2020.

Hybrid and Electric Vehicles Development

In addition to alternative fuel technology, GM is also actively developing hybrid and electric vehicles. The company’s long-term goal is to reduce fossil fuel consumption and green-house gas emission down to zero for most of its products.

These are the technology that the company is currently working on:

  • eAssist
  • plug-in hybrid
  • full hybrid
  • extended range battery electric vehicles
  • zero emission electric vehicles

The company is currently offering 7 vehicles in the US featuring some form of electrification and hybrid technology. The most prominent one is the Chevrolet Bolt EV.

GM Cares for the Environment

To reduce wastage and save cost, the company is in progress of converting as many of its worldwide operational facilities to landfill-free facilities. As of Dec 31 2018, GM has successfully converted 75 (or 50%) of its manufacturing facilities and 61 of non-manufacturing facilities to landfill-free operation.

A landfill-free facility means that more than 90% of waste materials are composted, reused or recycled. In addition, approximately 5% of waste in waste-to-energy facilities are converted to energy.

In 2018 alone, GM has successfully diverted 1.6 million metric tons of waste from going into the landfill because of the implementation of these waste reduction operations. As a result, approximately 6.9 million metric tons of green houses gas has been avoided from being released into the atmosphere in the company global operations.

Far from over, the company is targeting to meeting its electricity needs with renewable energy by 2050. As of Dec 31 2018, GM had implemented projects that had increased renewable energy usage to 400 megawatts, approximately 20% of its global electricity use.

In 2018 alone, the company had built enough wind farms totaling 250 megawatts to power its entire facilities in Texas, Ohio and Indiana. Moreover, GM had successfully met the EPA Energy Star Challenge for Industry (EPA Challenge) where 75 of GM owned manufacturing sites have reduced energy intensity by a minimum of 10% within 5 years. Many of these sites have exceeded the minimum target multiple times.


In short, GM is a powerful automotive manufacturer which owns not only a vast network of dealership but also several next-generation technology such as hybrid and electric vehicles, autonomous driving and alternative fuel cell vehicles.

In addition, the company also owns one of the fastest growing car and ride sharing mobile app to compliment its automotive business. While busy making money, the company does not forget about caring for the environment with its active waste reduction strategy and commitment towards renewable energy usage.

The authors wrote this article themselves, and it expresses their own opinions. The authors are not receiving compensation for writing the article. The authors have no business relationship with any company whose stocks are mentioned in this article.

1. All financial figures in this page were obtained from GM quarterly and annual reports through its Investor Relation website: General Motor Investor Relations.

2. Featured image was obtained from MomentiMedia TechFever Network and Steve Rainwater.

Related Articles:
1. Tesla Charging Infrastructure and Retail Outlets
2. Tesla Research and Development Expenses

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