By the start of the new millennium, GM had built a strong presence in emerging markets such as China and Brazil, and had largely completed its transformation into a single global company. The creation of GM Daewoo in 2002 gave GM a new organization specializing and engineering and manufacturing smaller cars, proving an important boost to Chevrolet’s growth as a global brand. The design and quality of GM’s new cars improved significantly, but GM found it difficult to regain share from its offshore competitors, and legacy cost from GM’s decades as a larger, less efficient company continued to weigh on financial results.
It was also a period of tremendous innovation at GM. The company continued to push ahead with electric vehicle technology, developing a series of hydrogen powered fuel-cell concept and demonstration vehicles. Then, in January 2007, GM shook the industry with the Chevrolet Volt concept, a vehicle that could drive on battery power for daily commuting, then continue operating with a range extender when the battery charge was depleted. The first production Volts were delivered to customers in December 2010. GM also became an industry leader in flex-fuel vehicles, which can run on either gasoline or E85, and developed a sophisticated two-mode hybrid system to significantly extend the economy of full-size trucks and SUVs.
Notable new models included the Chevrolet Aveo small car, the Chevrolet Equinox crossover, and the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky roadsters. The new Saturn Aura and Chevrolet Malibu put GM back into the thick of the midsize car fight, and the Cadillac CTS began a renaissance at Cadillac that is gaining momentum to this day.
However, in 2008, a major recession and global credit crisis drove car sales to near depression levels and dried up private sources of capital. GM, critically short of operating cash, received a bridge loan from the U.S. Treasury, under the conditions that the company further accelerate a tough restructuring of its us operations that had been underway for several years.