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A SWOT analysis of the General Motors company

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Marketing
Wordcount: 3219 words Published: 2nd May 2017

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General Motors is an omnipresent company in the United States, a company so essential to the overall health of the U.S economy that it spawned the phrase “as GM goes, so goes the nation”. Long known for the manufacturing of cars, trucks and automobiles, General Motors has also engaged in finance and insurance. However, most recently the global recession has had a devastating impact on its, cash flows, financial condition and operations. To survive, the company has had to accept a government bailout plan and its employees the United Autoworkers of America, has also made concessions


Branding – Born in Detroit Michigan in 1910 General motors has produced a stable of automobiles such as Chevrolet, Pontiac Cadillac and Buick which have become household names in the U.S. As such, the General Motors Brand is well rooted not only in America but throughout the world.

Worldwide Presence – General Motors truly has an international presence with factories in Poland, Russia, South Africa Ecuador, Egypt, Germany, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, China, Colombia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and Thailand. The company is even in Viet Nam. In addition, it also has assembly, manufacturing, distribution, office and warehousing operations in 55 other countries.


Diminishing Dealer Network – General Motors has compiled a list of more than 1,000 dealerships market for closure. The company has announced that it will not renew its franchise agreements with nearly one quarter of its U.S. dealerships. As of December 31, 2008, GM had 715 dealerships in Canada, as recent as May of 2009 plans called for a anywhere from 40 to 200 closures.

Insufficient Liquidity – General Motors has experienced a reduction in liquidity to $14 billion in FY2008 from $27.3 billion in 2007. Losses are attributed to lower sales volumes and a reduction in working capital. Both research and development, as well as relationships with suppliers are negatively affected by the reduced liquidity.

Inadequate Performance among Some Business Segments – In 2008 the GME segment accounted to 21.8% of the total revenues and its revenues decreased 8.8% to $32,440 million. Other business segments experiencing declines include GMNA which fell 23.9% to $82,938 million, and GMAP which stood at $12,477 million for FY 2008, a decline of 15%.

Low Debt Ratings – Four independent credit rating agencies assess GMs debt ratings and ability to pay interest, dividends and principal on securities. Moodys Investor Service, Fitch Ratings DBRS and Standard & Poors evaluate GM. As of 2008, all four had downgraded their assessment ratings for GM.


Growth Potential in India and China – There are positive projects for GM business in China and India. In China the market for new cars is in the midst of a 14% growth rate projected to reach over $97 billion in 2008. Meanwhile in India, the market for new cars grew by 15.5% in 2008 to a dollar value of $28 billion. A sign that India will play an even bigger is the projected increase to 2.5 million units by the end of 2013.

Increased Global Truck Market – Steady growth rates are projected in the next few years. The market’s volume is expected to rise to 21.5 million units by the end of 2013. The light commercial vehicles segment was the market’s largest in 2008, generating total volumes of 9.8 million units, equivalent to 58.1% of overall value.

Rising Demand for Hybrid Vehicles – General Motors produces six hybrid models in the US including the Saturn Vue and Aura Hybrids, Chevrolet Malibu and Tahoe Hybrids, GMC Yukon Hybrid as well as a Cadillac Escalade Hybrid. The company is also investing in hybrid and plug-in vehicles, for both cars and trucks. It is anticipated that GM will produce up to nine hybrid models following the introduction of the Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid and GMC Sierra Hybrid. International demand for light hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) is expected to increase. It is expected to rise to 800,000 units in 2009 and estimated to reach 4.5 million units in 2013. Therefore, a positive outlook for light hybrid electric vehicles and plug-in vehicles market would boost the demand for GM’s products.

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The Continuing Global Recession – Dire predictions for the global economy were realized in 2009 and stalled economic growth continued into 2010. The economic decline reduced consumer demand for less fuel efficient vehicles, including full size pick-up trucks and sport utility vehicles, which had been GM’s most profitable products. In addition, the economic climate has resulted in tighter credit markets making it harder for consumers to finance automobile purchases.

Weakness in Global Automobile Industry – Consumer Requirements for commercial vehicles declined in the NAFTA region, Western Europe and Japan. The Western European automobile markets suffered as well particularly the volume markets of Spain down 28.1%, Italy down 13.4% and the UK down 11.3%. Germany declined 1.8%) and France 0.7% also experienced downward trend in the second half of 2008. In total, 8.4% fewer automobiles were sold in Western Europe. The Japanese car market also declined, with a drop in sales of nearly 4% in 2008.

Intense competition – GMs financial status makes it vulnerable to fierce competition from fits such as AB Volvo, Bayerische Motoren Werke, Daimler, Fiat Group Automobiles, Ford Motor, Honda Motor, Hyundai Motor, Isuzu Motors, Mazda Motor, Nissan Motor, PACCAR, PSA Peugeot Citroen, Renault, Toyota Motor and Volkswagen. Many have responded to the crises by adding vehicle enhancements, providing subsidized financing or leasing programs in order to sell more vehicles. They are also offering option package discounts, other marketing incentives and are reducing vehicle prices in certain markets. These actions are expected to have a negative effect on GM’s vehicle pricing, market share and operating results particularly on the low end of the market.

General Motors, one of the world’s largest automakers, traces its roots back to 1908. With its global headquarters in Detroit, GM employs 204,000 people in every major region of the world and does business in some 140 countries.

About General Motors – General Motors, one of the world’s largest automakers, traces its roots back to 1908. With its global headquarters in Detroit, GM employs 209,000 people in every major region of the world and does business in more than 120 countries. GM and its strategic partners produce cars and trucks in 31 countries, and sell and service these vehicles through the following brands: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Daewoo, Holden, Isuzu, Jiefang, Opel, Vauxhall, and Wuling. GM’s largest national market is China, followed by the United States, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, and Russia. GM’s OnStar subsidiary is the industry leader in vehicle safety, security and information services. General Motors acquired operations from General Motors Corporation on July 10, 2009, and references to prior periods in this and other press materials refer to operations of the old General Motors Corporation. More information on the new General Motors can be found atwww.gm.com.

Fostering Global Partnerships and Consumer Relationships

GM is the majority shareholder in GM Daewoo Auto & Technology Co. of South Korea, and has product, powertrain and purchasing collaborations with Suzuki Motor Corp. and Isuzu Motors Ltd. of Japan. GM also has advanced technology collaborations with Chrysler LLC, Daimler AG, BMW AG and Toyota Motor Corp. and vehicle manufacturing ventures with several automakers around the world, including Toyota, Suzuki, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. of China, AVTOVAZ of Russia and Renault SA of France.

The Global Reach of GM Parts and Accessories

Genuine GM Parts and accessories are sold under the GM, GM Performance Parts, GM Goodwrench and ACDelco brands through GM Service and Parts Operations, which supplies GM dealerships and distributors worldwide. GM engines and transmissions are marketed through GM Powertrain.

SWOT analysis is a tool for auditing an organization and its environment. It is the first stage of planning and helps marketers to focus on key issues. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Strengths and weaknesses are internal factors. Opportunities and threats are external factors.

In SWOT, strengths and weaknesses are internal factors.

For example:

A strength could be:

Your specialist marketing expertise.

A new, innovative product or service.

Location of your business.

Quality processes and procedures.

Any other aspect of your business that adds value to your product or service.

A weakness could be:

Lack of marketing expertise.

Undifferentiated products or services (i.e. in relation to your competitors).

Location of your business.

Poor quality goods or services.

Damaged reputation.

In SWOT, opportunities and threats are external factors.

For example:

An opportunity could be:

A developing market such as the Internet.

Mergers, joint ventures or strategic alliances.

Moving into new market segments that offer improved profits.

A new international market.

A market vacated by an ineffective competitor.

A threat could be:

A new competitor in your home market.

Price wars with competitors.

A competitor has a new, innovative product or service.

Competitors have superior access to channels of distribution.

Taxation is introduced on your product or service.

Simple rules for successful SWOT analysis.

Be realistic about the strengths and weaknesses of your organization when conducting SWOT analysis.

SWOT analysis should distinguish between where your organization is today, and where it could be in the future.

SWOT should always be specific. Avoid grey areas.

Always apply SWOT in relation to your competition i.e. better than or worse than your competition.

Keep your SWOT short and simple. Avoid complexity and over analysis

SWOT is subjective.

Once key issues have been identified with your SWOT analysis, they feed into marketing objectives. SWOT can be used in conjunction with other tools for audit and analysis, such as PEST analysis and Porter’s Five-Forces analysis. So SWOT is a very popular tool with marketing students because it is quick and easy to learn. During the SWOT exercise, list factors in the relevant boxes. It’s that simple.

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Environmental opportunities are only potential opportunities unless the organization can utilize resources to take advantage of them and until the strategic leader decides that it is appropriate to pursue the opportunity. It is therefore important to evaluate environment opportunities in relation to the strengths and weaknesses of the organization’s resources, and in relation to the organizational culture. Real opportunities exist when there is a close fit between environment, values and resources. An evaluation of an organization’sstrengths and weaknesses in relation to environmental opportunities and threats is generally referred to as a SWOT analysis. The following report will look closely into the SWOT’s concept, its main aspects, and criteria for successful and effective SWOT analysis.

Main Aspects of SWOT Analysis

SWOT has a long history as a tool of strategic and marketing analysis. No one knows who first invented SWOT analysis. It has features in strategy textbooks since at least 1972 and can now be found in textbooks on marketing and any other business disciplines. Its advocates say that it can be used to gauge the degree of “fit” between the organisation’s strategies and its environment, and to suggest ways in which the organisation can profit from strengths and opportunities and shield itself against weaknesses and threats (Adams, 2005). However, SWOT has come under criticism recently. Because it is so simple, both students and managers have a tendency to use it without a great deal of thought, so that the results are often useless. Another problem is that SWOT, having been conceived in simpler times, does not cope very well with some of the subtler aspects of modern strategic theory, such as trade-offs (De Witt and Meyer, 1998).


Determine an organisation’s strong points. This should be from both internal and external customers. A strength is a “resource advantage relative to competitors and the needs of the markets a firm serves or expects to serve”

It is a distinctive competence when it gives the firm a comparative advantage in the marketplace. Strengths arise from the resources and competencies available to the firm.


Determine an organisation’s weaknesses. This should be not only from its own point of view, but also more importantly, from those of the customers. Although it may be difficult for an organisation to acknowledge its weaknesses, it is best to handle the bitter reality without procrastination. A weakness is a “limitation or deficiency in one or more resources or competencies relative to competitors that impedes a firm’s effective performance” (http://gift.postech.ac.kr/admin/bbs/data/summer_session_2004/ Corporate%20Strategy_ver%5B7%5D_final(1).ppt).


marketplace. After all, opportunities are everywhere, such as the changes in technology, government policy, social patterns, and so on. An opportunity is a major situation in a firm’s environment. Key trends are one source of opportunities. Identification of a previously overlooked market segment, changes in competitive or regulatory circumstances, technological changes, and improved buyer or supplier relationships could represent opportunities for the firm.


No one likes to think about threats, but we still have to face them, despite the fact that they are external factors that are out of our control, for example, the recent economic slump in Asia. It is vital to be prepared and face threats even during turbulent times. A threat is a major unfavourable situation in a firm’s environment. Threats are key impediments to the firm’s current or desired position. The entrance of new competitors, slow market growth, increased bargaining power of key buyers or suppliers, technological changes, and new or revised regulations could represent threats to a firm’s success.

Because SWOT is such a familiar and comforting tool, many students use it at the start of their analysis. This is a mistake. In order to arrive at a proper SWOT appraisal, other analyses need to be carried out first.

Since opportunities and threats mostly arise from the environment, SWOT analysisneeds to take account of the results of a full environmental analysis.

It is impossible to gauge what an organisation’s real strengths are until you have assessed its strategic resources – in fact, strategic resources and strengths are the same thing. There is a tendency for students to put down anything vaguely favourable that they can think of about a company as a strength. This temptation needs to be resisted – a strength is not a strength unless it makes a genuine difference to an organisation’s competitiveness. The same is true of weaknesses.

SWOT analysis was developed by the middle of the 1960s for large organizations to determine the strategic fit between an organization’s internal, distinctive capabilities and external possibilities and to prioritize actions. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.

The steps in the common three phase SWOT analysis process are:

Phase 1: Detect strategic issues

Identify external issues relevant to the firm’s strategic position in the industry and the general environment at large with the understanding that opportunities and threats are factors that management cannot directly influence.

Identify internal issues relevant to the firm’s strategic position.

Analyze and rank the external issues according to probability and impact.

List the key strategic issues factors inside or outside the organization that significantly impact the long-term competitive position in the SWOT matrix.

Phase 2: Determine the strategy

Identify firm’s strategic fit given its internal capabilities and external environment.

Formulate alternative strategies to address key issues.

Place the alternative strategies in one of the four quadrants in the SWOT matrix. Strategies that combine:

internal strengths with external opportunities are the most ideal mix, but require understanding how the internal strengths can support weaknesses in other areas;

internal weaknesses with opportunities must be judged on investment effectiveness to determine if the gain is worth the effort to buy or develop the internal capability,

internal strengths with external threats demand knowing the worth of adapting the organization to change the threat into opportunity;

internal weaknesses with threats create an organization’s worst-case scenario. Radical changes such as divestment are required.

Develop additional strategies for any remaining “blind spots” in SWOT matrix. Select an appropriate strategy.

Phase 3: Implement and monitor strategy

Develop action plan to implement strategy;

Assign responsibilities and budgets;

Monitor progress;

Start review process from beginning.

The SWOT analysis is a valuable step in your situational analysis. Assessing your firm’s strengths, weaknesses, market opportunities, and threats through a SWOT analysis is a very simple process that can offer powerful insight into the potential and critical issues affecting a venture.

The SWOT analysis begins by conducting an inventory of internal strengths and weaknesses in your organization. You will then note the external opportunities and threats that may affect the organization, based on your market and the overall environment. Don’t be concerned about elaborating on these topics at this stage; bullet points may be the best way to begin. Capture the factors you believe are relevant in each of the four areas. You will want to review what you have noted here as you work through your marketing plan. The primary purpose of the SWOT analysis is to identify and assign each significant factor, positive and negative, to one of the four categories, allowing you to take an objective look at your business. The SWOT analysis will be a useful tool in developing and confirming your goals and your marketing strategy.


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