The company was founded on September 16, 1908, in Flint, Michigan, as a holding company for Buick, then controlled by William C. Durant. At the turn of the 20th century there were fewer than 8,000 automobiles in America and Durant had become a leading manufacturer of horse-drawn vehicles in Flint, MI, before making his foray into the automotive industry. GM's co-founder was Charles Stewart Mott, whose carriage company was merged into Buick prior to GM's creation. Over the years Mott became the largest single stockholder in GM and spent his life with his Mott Foundation which has benefited the city of Flint, his adopted home. It acquired Oldsmobile later that year. In 1909, Durant brought in Cadillac, Elmore, Oakland and several others. Also in 1909, GM acquired the Reliance Motor Truck Company of Owosso, Michigan, and the Rapid Motor Vehicle Company of Pontiac, Michigan, the predecessors of GMC Truck. Durant lost control of GM in 1910 to a bankers' trust, because of the large amount of debt taken on in its acquisitions coupled with a collapse in new vehicle sales.
The next year, Durant started the Chevrolet Motor Car Company and through this he secretly purchased a controlling interest in GM. Durant took back control of the company after one of the most dramatic proxy wars in American business history. Durant then reorganized General Motors Company into General Motors Corporation in 1916. Shortly after, he again lost control, this time for good, after the new vehicle market collapsed. Alfred P. Sloan was picked to take charge of the corporation and led it to its post-war global dominance. This unprecedented growth of GM would last into the early 1980s when it employed 349,000 workers and operated 150 assembly plants.
GM led global sales for 77 consecutive years from 1931 through 2007, longer than any other automaker. In 2008, 2009, and 2010, GM has ranked as the second largest global automaker by sales. The company regained its position as the world's largest automaker, by vehicle unit sales, in 2011. Along the way, a failure to obtain government loans caused GM to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in June 2009, following the recession of 2008, 2009.
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