24 magnificently random things made by car-makers
Yes, it’s General Motors again, this time in the train business. By 1930 GM CEO Alfred P Sloan was convinced his conglomerate approach to making cars could be applied to the wider transport world, and that year purchased Cleveland’s Electro-Motive Company (EMC). GM correctly guessed that American railroads would move to diesel power away from steam leading to demand for new engines, and also saw synergy for that power-source with its cars.
EMC eventually became America’s largest producer of diesel locomotives alongside archrival General Electric, though beneficial cooperation with GM’s car arm was elusive in the event. It exported all over the world, including to the UK as in this example, a EMD 710 12-cylinder diesel engine, that output 3000 hp. GM sold EMC in 2005 to a private equity group; in 2010 it in turn sold EMC to construction equipment giant Caterpillar.
Truth is we could do a whole story about the random stuff made by GM over the years. Other things include the M-18 Hellcat tank and the DUKW amphibious amphibious truck during WW2, and a major appliance division that produced refrigerators, dishwashers, ovens, trash compactors, and washing machines until it sold off this arm in 1979, the remnants today being part of Electrolux. GM also built the world’s first mechanical heart. Phew.