Delphi Corporate Lineage

by Jacqueline Robinson

Delphi Retirees Chapter Members’ Corporate Linage

Wikipedia serves and as an ancestry family tree for Delphi Retirees Chapter members. Their roots go back to National Cash Register Company (NCR) co-workers Charles Kettering and Edward Deeds. Working in Deeds’ barn in their spare time around 1908 they worked on developing a high-energy spark ignition system.

Formation of Delco

In 1909, Henry Leland of Cadillac ordered 5,000 ignition sets for the 1910 Cadillac and Kettering and Deeds formed the Dayton Engineering Laboratories company (Delco).

In 1911, Kettering invented and patented the first useful electric starter, adapted from a cash register motor. The starters were first installed in the 1912 Cadillacs.

In 1915, Deeds left NCR to devote himself full-time to Delco. At the time, one of Kettering’s widely known inventions was the Delco-Light, a small internal combustion generator with battery intended to provide a source of electric illumination and mechanical power to rural residents.

During World War I (1914 – 1918), the Delco plant in Moraine, Ohio, was expanded to manufacture the De Havilland DH 4 bomber, the only American-built airplane to see action in World War I.

Acquisition by GM

In 1918, General Motors (GM) acquired the United Motors Company which had been formed several years earlier to house several prominent parts manufacturers, including Delco, Dayton-Wright, and the Dayton Metal Products Company. All of these companies were associated with Kettering, Deeds and Harold E. Talbott. Kettering became vice president of General Motors Research Corporation in 1920. He held the position as head of research for GM for 27 years.

General Motors Institute

In 1919, The School of Automotive Trades was founded and became known as the Flint Institute of Technology in 1923 before being acquired by General Motors in 1926 and named the General Motors Institute of Technology and eventually the General Motors Institute in 1932. Once referred to as the West Point of the Automotive Industry, the Institute was granted the ability to award degrees in 1945 and the first bachelor’s degree was awarded on August 23, 1946. Many GM and Delphi engineers were trained at the General Motors Institute.

Split from GM

After GM reduced operations in Flint, the company and the Institute separated in 1982. The name of the institution became GMI Engineering & Management Institute and the letters “GMI” were retained to allow easy identification with the old General Motors Institute. In 1998, the name changed to Kettering University as it remains today, offering degrees beyond automotive-related programs.

Defense Systems

In 1962, GM created the General Motors Research Laboratories, based in Santa Barbara, California to conduct research and development activities on defense systems. This organization was eventually merged into Delco Electronics and renamed Delco Systems Operations.

GM Buys Hughes Electronics Corporation

In 1985, GM purchased Hughes Aircraft and merged it with Delco Electronics to form Hughes Electronics Corporation, an independent subsidiary.

GM Reorganization

In 1997, all of the aerospace and defense businesses of Hughes Electronics (Hughes Aircraft and Delco Systems Operations) merged with defense contractor Raytheon. The Hughes Network Systems portion of Hughes Communications became DirectTV and the commercial portion of Delco Electronics was transferred to GM’s Delphi Automotive business.

On May 28, 1999, GM spun off Delphi as a publicly traded company, but continued to use the Delco Electronics name for several of its subsidiaries until 2004. Although Delco Electronics no longer exists as an operating company, GM retains rights to the Delco name and uses it for some of its subsidiaries including the ACDelco parts division.

Delphi and GM Bankruptcies

In 2009, as a result of Delphi Corporation’s and General Motors’ Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings and realignment, it was agreed that GM would take back some of the Delphi plants it had previously owned as they manufactured key components necessary for GM. This resulted in a new subsidiary, GM Components Holdings which included the former Delco Electronics’ plants in Kokomo, Indiana, where only a fraction of the previous manufacturing remains.

It was during the bankruptcies that a federal government task force intervened. GM’s and the Delphi’ unions’ pensions were fully protected, but the pension plan for Delphi salaried retirees was terminated, taken over by PBGC and 22,000 retirees suffered payment reductions of up to 70%.

Birth of Aptiv

On 5 December 2017, Delphi Automotive renamed itself Aptiv and spun off its powertrain and aftermarket businesses to a stand-alone company Delphi Technologies PLC. On 28 January 2020, BorgWarner Inc. agreed to buy Delphi Technologies. The deal was completed in October 2020.

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