CBC Digital Archives

Trouble looms for GM

Buick, Cadillac, Corvette: iconic car brands from what was once the world's biggest automaker. Since its inception in 1908, General Motors has put millions of cars on the road and employed generations of Canadians. But competition from overseas began to take its toll in the 1980s, setting GM on a path to bankruptcy in 2009.

Blame it on the SUV. Once the saviour of the big North American car companies, the sport utility vehicle has plummeted in popularity by 2005. At General Motors, the debt is piling up and shareholders are getting restless. In this clip from CBC-TV's The National, analyst Joseph D'Cruz enumerates the obstacles GM faces: healthcare and pension obligations, a bureaucratic management structure, product overcapacity and an "unexciting lineup" of vehicles. 
• SUVs, or sport utility vehicles, became a popular new option for car buyers in the 1990s. Based on a truck body, their sporty image, roomy interior and generous cargo space made them more appealing than station wagons and minivans as the family vehicle of choice. SUVs were a bonanza for the automakers because of the premium price they commanded without significantly higher production costs.
  • Demand for SUVs peaked in 1999 and dropped precipitously in 2005 as gas prices skyrocketed. Instead, the car companies began making smaller "crossover" vehicles.

• In February 2007 GM was in talks to buy rival automaker the Chrysler Group from DaimlerChrysler (a merger of Chrysler and Daimler Benz). The deal never went through. In 2008, Chrysler having since been sold off to the Cerberus Management Group, the pair was in merger talks again but nothing came of them.  

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: July 6, 2005
Guest(s): Joseph D'Cruz, Gerald Fedchun, Buzz Hargrove, Bob Lutz, Rick Wagoner
Host: Alison Smith
Reporter: Michael Hornbrook
Duration: 7:27

Last updated: February 10, 2012

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

All Clips from this Topic

Related Content

Their Excellencies: Canada's Governors Genera...

Browse the menu at right to discover TV clips from the CBC Digital Archives topic Their Excell...

Reinventing an airline

A new, restructured Air Canada emerges from the brink of financial ruin, only to face stiff co...

Air Canada's bankruptcy

After more than 60 years in the air, Air Canada files for bankruptcy protection.

B.C. church goes bankrupt

An Anglican diocese can no longer pay for the sins of the past.

Sears shops at Eaton's

Sears buys eight Eaton's stores and the rights to the Eaton's name