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GM’s Subsidiaries That Make The Most Money

The Interior of a GM Cadillac CTS. Source: Flickr Image.

General Motors (NYSE:GM) is an automobile company based in the US but has sales offices around the world, especially in China in which the company has major operations.

GM reported its financial results according to the following 3 main business segments or subsidiaries, and they are Automotive, Cruise and GM Financial:

  • Automotive
    • GM North America (GMNA)
    • GM International (GMI)
    • Corporate
  • Cruise
  • GM Financial

Under the automotive subsidiary, it’s further divided into smaller segments, including GMNA, GMI and GM Corporate.

In this article, we will briefly walk through each GM’s business segment to find out what they do, their revenues, margins and profitability.

Take note that GM Corporate’s sales in fiscal 2020 were negligible and are thus, not included in the following discussion.

Let’s do it!

General Motors’ Business Subsidiaries Topics

1. GM North America
2. GM International
3. Cruise
4. GM Financial
5. Conclusion

GM North America (GMNA)

GMNA's sales, profit and margin

GMNA’s sales, profit and margin

GMNA is responsible for meeting the demands of customers in North America with vehicles developed, manufactured, and/or marketed under brand names such as Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GMC.

According to GM’s 2020 annual filing, GMNA contributed the largest sales at $97 billion, and delivered 2.7 million vehicles in fiscal 2020 alone.

GMNA has been GM’s largest and most important business unit all these years.

In fiscal 2020, GMNA’s revenue alone made up nearly 80% of the company’s total sales.

While the North American region has been GM’s biggest market for its automobile products, sales from this region have declined 9% year-on-year while vehicle deliveries have dropped as much as 16% compared to fiscal 2019.

In terms of profits, GMNA clocked in $9.1 billion in adjusted EBIT or earnings before interest and taxes in fiscal 2020.

As a result, GMNA’s EBIT-adjusted margin reached 9.4%, a near 2 percentage points increase compared to fiscal 2019.

While GMNA’s revenue has declined, its profit soared, driven primarily by the said margin expansion.

At this level of profit, GMNA is easily the largest profit contributor to the company.

GM International (GMI)

GMI's sales, profit and margin

GMI’s sales, profit and margin

On the other hand, GMI is responsible for meeting the demands of customers outside of North America with vehicles developed, manufactured and/or marketed under the brand names such as Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC and Holden.

In addition to producing its own vehicles, GMI has joint ventures with companies in China.

Together, they jointly develop, manufacture and/or market vehicles under brand names such as Baojun, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Jiefang and Wuling.

As of fiscal 2020, GMI’s investment in China joint ventures totaled as much as $6.6 billion.

While GMI doesn’t directly own these joint ventures, it gets a fair share of the revenue in the form of equity income.

The equity income contributed by GMI will then be consolidated at the company’s consolidated income statements.

As of fiscal 2020, the automotive joint ventures in China alone contributed an equity income of $500 million.

However, the figure was a far cry from the $1.1 billion of equity income reported in fiscal 2019.

The significant decline in equity income from China joint ventures was primarily due to lower sales and profits reported in fiscal 2020.

Nevertheless, GMI still contributed a sweet $11.5 billion of sales in fiscal 2020, a decrease of 28% compared to fiscal 2019.

In terms of vehicle deliveries, GMI sold only 663,000 vehicles in fiscal 2020, a decrease of more than 30% compared to fiscal 2019.

Since GMI has experienced a significant decline in revenue and vehicle deliveries, its profitability has got a hit too.

In fiscal 2020, GMI’s adjusted EBIT clocked in at -$528 million, representing a much larger loss compared to fiscal 2019.

This figure has already taken into account the $500 million equity income from China joint ventures.

Without the contribution from China, GMI would have lost more than $1 billion in terms of adjusted EBIT.


Cruise's sales, profit and margin

Cruise’s sales, profit and margin

Cruise is a new reportable segment since 2019.

Prior to 2019, Cruise was referred to as GM Cruise and was part of the Automotive business segment.

However, this business unit has since been separated out in 2019 from the Automotive segment due to the growing importance of autonomous vehicles and self-driving technology.

In general, Cruise is responsible for the development and commercialization of autonomous vehicles and self-driving technology.

According to GM 2020 annual filing, Cruise generated about $100 million of sales in fiscal 2020, a figure that has not changed much compared to fiscal 2019.

However, Cruise continued to incur an adjusted loss that amounted to nearly $900 million in fiscal 2020.

Cruise’s adjusted loss in fiscal 2020 slightly declined compared to fiscal 2019 which totaled $1 billion.

Despite having massive losses all these years, it’s not all doom and gloom for Cruise.

The good news is that Cruise has received multiple capital injections by issuing preferred shares between 2018 and 2019 which totaled more than $4 billion to different parties, including Softbank Vision Fund, Honda and GM itself.

Not only that, in Jan 2021, Cruise has again issued preferred shares to multiple investors, one of them was Microsoft, in exchange for $2.2 billion of cash.

GM itself has chipped in $1.0 billion in the latest round of fundings for Cruise in 2021.

GM Financial

GM Financial's sales, profit and margin

GM Financial’s sales, profit and margin

According to GM’s 2020 annual filing, GM Financial is the global captive automotive finance company and global provider of automotive finance solutions.

It conducts business in North America, South America, and through joint ventures in the Asia Pacific.

The primary function of GM Financial is to provide retail loans and lease lending across all credit spectrum in addition to offering commercial lending products to dealers who require working capitals to finance new stores opening or improvement to dealership facilities as well as loans to purchase dealership real estate.

Other than dealer loans, GM Financial also offers a sub-prime lending program in North America to customers with a FICO score or its equivalent of less than 620.

Compared to the automotive segment, GM Financial is a more stable and predictable business, with revenue averaging around $14 billion in the past 3 years.

In fiscal 2020, GM Financial earned a revenue amounted to $13.8 billion, a decline of 5% compared to fiscal 2019.

Of that amount of revenue, GM Financial managed to eke out an adjuted EBT or earnings before taxes of $2.7 billion, an increase of 28% compared to fiscal 2019.

Despite earning less revenue, GM Financial managed to increase its profitability by as much as 28%, helped by lower interest expenses and higher used vehicle prices in fiscal 2020.

As a result, GM Financial’s adjusted EBT margin reached nearly 20% in fiscal 2020 compared to GMNA which has only a 9% adjusted EBIT margin.

While GM Financial may not be the largest profit contributor at an adjusted EBT of $2.7 billion, it is the most profitable sector, beating all other business segments.


In short, GMNA is GM’s largest revenue generator at close to 80% of total revenue in fiscal 2020.

Out of revenue of $97 billion, GMNA managed to generate an adjusted EBIT of $9.1 billion, and the adjusted EBIT margin improved to 9% compared to fiscal 2019.

GMI was ranked 3rd with a revenue figure of $11.6 billion in fiscal 2020.

However, GMI has been having losses in the past 2 years, and it incurred a higher loss in fiscal 2020 at more than half a billion dollars.

GM Financial comes at 2nd based on revenue figure.

In fiscal 2020, GM Financial contributed $13.8 billion of revenue.

In terms of profitability, GM Financial has the highest EBIT-adjusted margin of close to 20%, making it the most profitable subsidiary in the company.

Cruise is a new business subsidiary and has made only $100 million in revenue in 2020.

Similar to GMI, Cruise has also been incurring losses all these years.

The latest loss from Cruise totaled nearly $900 million, a figure that was even higher than that of GMI.

While Cruise has incurred losses, it has been receiving fundings all these years from prominent investors such as Microsoft, Softbank, Honda and GM itself.

References and Credits

1. All financial figures in this article were obtained and referenced from GM’s quarterly and annual reports which can be found in: General Motors Investor Relations.

2. Featured images in this article are used under creative commons licenses and sourced from the following websites: GmanViz and Alan Gore.

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