"A car for every purse and purpose." It was a simple enough mantra, but it helped General Motors' then-Chairman Alfred P. Sloan push past Ford in 1927 to become the world's largest automaker — and, for the next eight decades, it didn't look back.
Few companies better defined the concept "bigger is better." It applied not only to the ever-growing GM vehicles that, by the 1950s and 1960s, had grown to enormous lengths, but to GM's business strategy, which saw it grow into a global behemoth. Competitors such as Toyota and Volkswagen could only dream of catching up — until GM came tumbling down in the Great Recession and was forced to abandon four of its North American brands in return for a federal bailout.
The slimmer GM that emerged from Chapter 11 protection has taken a different path, especially under Mary Barra. Since becoming Sloan's latest successor as CEO in January 2014 and subsequently adding the chairman's title, Barra has adopted a very different mantra, "small is beautiful" — or profitable, at the very least.