A History of General Motors Innovations Throughout the Years

You take a lot of the basic features in your car for granted. But at some point in history, that feature didn’t exist, and someone invented it. Many of these essential vehicle features came from General Motors. These are some of the General Motors innovations that changed the industry forever.

Automatic transmission

The first automatic transmission, called the Hydra-Matic, made its debut on the 1940 Oldsmobile. Today, nearly every car sold is equipped with an automatic transmission.

Air bags

General Motors was the first company to use air bags commercially in the 1970s (under the name “air cushion restraint system”) in the Buick and Oldsmobile brands. Today, air bags in cars are as necessary as steering wheels, and have saved countless lives.

Catalytic converter

A catalytic converter helps control the amount of toxic gases emitted by your car. General Motors started developing the converter in the 1960s and implemented the first units for the 1975 model year.

OnStar®

The now-beloved OnStar® system made its first appearance in 1996. It was the first type of in-car communication system and was used to offer drivers’ assistance long before cell phones became massively popular. More than 7 million drivers continue to use OnStar® today for help with emergency services, diagnostics, and even Wi-Fi.

While the industry continues to see new technology created on a regular basis, the early innovations of General Motors reminds us that sometimes, the best things never change. Visit Jim Causley GMC today for a look at the latest innovations from GM.

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How General Motors Was a Major Contributor to the History of Detroit

Detroit wouldn’t be what it is were it not for the automotive industry, and the automotive industry wouldn’t be what it is were it not for Detroit. It’s impossible to understate the impact that the Motor City has had on the American car market and its explosive growth throughout the 20th century.

Of the major players in the history of Detroit, few are as influential as General Motors. The Michigan city wasn’t a household name until pioneers like William Durant and Charles Stewart Mott put it on the map. When they founded General Motors in 1908 in Flint, Michigan (later moving to Detroit in the 1920s), they probably didn’t anticipate the impact their business would have.

As General Motors acquired Buick, Oldsmobile, Cadillac, and Pontiac, manufacturing jobs and economic growth in Detroit skyrocketed. By 1950, Detroit was America’s fourth-largest city, with a population exceeding 1.85 million people. Throughout the 20th century, General Motors’ engineering innovations injecting Detroit’s economy with vitality and prosperity. Even a century later, General Motors is inextricably linked with Detroit’s reputation as a hub of cutting-edge innovation.

history of Detroit - Clinton Township, MI

Jim Causley Buick GMC Truck is proud to be located in the Detroit metro area, where the automotive industry began and continues to grow a century later. We look forward to the many innovations that General Motors has in store for the 21st century.

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