General Motors SWOT Analysis & Recommendations

General Motors SWOT Analysis, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats, internal external strategic factors, GM automotive case study
General Motors’ Chevrolet Volt at the Washington Auto Show in 2007. This SWOT Analysis of General Motors Company determines the internal and external strategic factors that affect the automotive business. (Photo: Public Domain)

General Motors Company’s (GM’s) industry position is a result of efforts to address opportunities and threats, such as the ones shown in this SWOT analysis. The SWOT analysis model is a tool that managers use to identify the most significant internal strategic factors (strengths and weaknesses) and external strategic factors (opportunities and threats). This case points to SWOT factors that determine the attainment of General Motors’ mission statement and vision statement for industry leadership and positive impact in the automotive market. For example, economies of scale support the carmaker’s market position. However, General Motors faces issues related to competition. The SWOT factors (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) are considered in business decision-making processes to ensure GM’s strategic fit.

This SWOT analysis of General Motors Company stresses the importance of business strengths for overcoming weaknesses, exploiting opportunities, and addressing threats. GM has a strong position in the automobile market. Strong brands ensure the company’s competitive advantages despite competition with other large automobile manufacturers, like Ford, Toyota, and Tesla. However, considering industry dynamics, General Motors needs strategies for the factors shown in this SWOT analysis of its business.

General Motors’ Strengths (Internal Factors)

This aspect of the SWOT analysis enumerates internal strategic factors that support General Motors’ growth and development. These factors include organizational capabilities and potential for opportunities in the global automotive industry. General Motors’ strengths are:

  1. Strong brands
  2. Human resource expertise for automotive development
  3. Economies of scale in car production

Strong brands, such as Chevrolet, Buick, and Cadillac, are a strength that supports General Motors’ competitiveness through product attractiveness and customer loyalty. For example, customers are more likely to have a positive response to GM products, in contrast to relatively unknown or new brands. On the other hand, General Motors has human resource expertise as a competitive advantage based on the company’s long history of automobile development and manufacturing. This internal factor is a strength in the SWOT analysis because it facilitates the development of new and competitive automobiles. Economies of scale also contribute to GM’s success. This strength empowers General Motors’ generic strategy and intensive growth strategies to maintain a competitive advantage based on production capacity and cost minimization. Thus, in this aspect of the SWOT analysis of General Motors, business strengths sustain the company’s capabilities as a major competitor in the automotive industry.

GM’s Weaknesses (Internal Factors)

The internal strategic factors that lessen General Motors’ organizational growth and development potential are considered in this aspect of the SWOT analysis. These factors are organizational characteristics that limit the performance of the automotive business. General Motors’ weaknesses are:

  1. Product designs specific to the American market
  2. Lack of flexibility because of bureaucracy
  3. Limited business diversification

General Motors designs its vehicles to match the preferences and needs of Americans. Compared to other countries, the U.S. automotive market is where the company generates its biggest net sales. In this SWOT analysis of GM, the internal factor of automobile designs that focus on American buyers weakens the ability to satisfy customers outside the U.S., as evident from the company’s weak performance in Asian and European markets. On the other hand, the lack of flexibility linked to bureaucracy is a weakness that General Motors’ organizational culture (company culture) currently aims to address. In this SWOT analysis context, such an internal strategic factor reduces business flexibility in responding to variations in automobile preferences in different markets. Although this bureaucracy is based on General Motors’ organizational structure (company structure), top managers consider culture as a primary means of addressing the matter. Moreover, the weakness of limited business diversification reflects GM’s focus on two main businesses – automotive and financial services. Limited diversification exposes the company to risks in the automotive market. Overall, this aspect of the SWOT analysis shows General Motors’ weaknesses hinder business growth in the global market.

Opportunities for General Motors (External Factors)

In this aspect of the SWOT analysis, external strategic factors that support General Motors’ business growth and development are identified. These factors can pave the way for the company to improve its profits and position in the international automobile market. General Motors’ opportunities are:

  1. Bureaucratic rigidity reduction to compete in non-American markets
  2. Expansion of market presence in developing countries
  3. Integration of advanced computing technologies in products to match global market expectations

General Motors has the opportunity to reduce the bureaucratic inflexibility of its organization. Considering that bureaucracy presents a weakness noted in this SWOT analysis, exploiting this opportunity can help in enhancing GM’s organizational competencies. Another opportunity is to increase General Motors’ market presence in developing countries. For example, the company can offer products, including Chevrolet and GMC automobiles, to more customers in developing countries, as a way of increasing revenues. General Motors’ marketing mix (4P) must align with strategies for this opportunity. Also, integration of advanced computing technologies in automobiles is an opportunity that can improve GM’s competitive advantage in the global market. Automobile manufacturers’ efforts for rapid innovation make this opportunity significant. Based on this aspect of the SWOT analysis of General Motors Company, the business has opportunities for growth in the international market.

Threats Facing GM (External Factors)

External strategic factors that tend to diminish General Motors’ business performance are considered in this aspect of the SWOT analysis. These factors are threats that have unfavorable effects on the firm, based on industry or market conditions. General Motors faces the following threats in the automotive industry:

  1. Cutthroat competition
  2. Biden’s climate rule affecting automakers
  3. Substitution based on sociopolitical promotion of public transportation and other alternatives

The automotive industry has a high level of competitive rivalry, as determined in the Five Forces analysis of General Motors Company. This situation threatens the automaker’s business performance and market share. The U.S. government’s climate agenda is another threat relevant to this SWOT analysis of General Motors. This external factor favors electric vehicles based on new standards for fuel efficiency and emissions. GM will need to increase its efforts for electric vehicle production or risk sales reduction in the United States. As another major point in this SWOT analysis, General Motors faces governmental and social promotion of public transportation and other alternatives, including motorcycles, like the ones from Harley-Davidson. This external factor, based on environmental concerns, counteracts the growth of the automotive industry. Product development and GM’s CSR, ESG, stakeholder management, and corporate citizenship efforts need to improve to address this threat. Overall, the threats in this aspect of the SWOT analysis point to developing competitive advantages to protect General Motors’ business and its long-term development.

Key Points & Recommendations – General Motors SWOT Analysis

This SWOT analysis indicates the capabilities of General Motors. The company has a strong position in the automotive industry. Economies of scale, strong brands, and human resource expertise are strengths that empower GM and its competitive advantages. General Motors can use these strengths to grow its business despite its organizational weaknesses. GM’s strengths can also address some of the threats and opportunities, such as competitive rivalry and the expansion of market presence, respectively.

General Motors, however, needs to implement strategic reform for business resilience to address the weaknesses and threats, and to exploit the opportunities shown in this SWOT analysis. For example, a more aggressive GM dealership strategy can expand the company’s global market presence. Based on the internal analysis (strengths and weaknesses) and external analysis (opportunities and threats) components of this SWOT analysis of General Motors, the following actions are recommended:

  1. Reforms that improve the organizational culture and structure to address the issue of inflexibility linked to bureaucracy
  2. Expansion of the dealership network to grow GM’s market presence in developing countries
  3. Improvements in GM’s rate of innovation to increase competitiveness and protect the business from disruptions in the automotive industry