Another automaker set to enter the 2009 L.A. Design Challenge is General Motors with their play on the popular Guitar Hero video game brand that get gamers in touch with their musical sides. The 2030 OnStar Car Hero from GM is a driver training device that is packaged to look like a video game of today, the Car Hero features three stages of automotive instruction. The unit will take users from piloting a somewhat traditional four wheeled machine used for teaching the rules of the road all the way up to a gyroscopically controlled single wheeled vehicle with upgraded maneuverability that will challenge the driver’s skills against the car’s autonomous system.
Aside from being a learning device, once fully unlocked GM’s car of the future will also be full of features like P2P applications like Friends and Fantay Drive. The first is a futuristic take on Twitter that lets your companions come along with you on your journey and opens up a direct line of communication with them from wherever you are on the planet. The Fantasy Drive feature is the perfect alternative to tiresome and lengthy commutes allowing the driver to virtually escape the traffic and much like a bonus level in a video game experience unique and fantastic alternative driving environments. The GM Car Hero blurs the line between driving and gaming, and if the next generation of automotive consumers have anything to say about it, General Motors’ car of the future is guaranteed to be a hit.
One of the most-eagerly anticipated races today is one that doesn’t involve sponsorships, championship points, trophies – just bragging rights.
We’re talking about the Cadillac CTS-V Challenge, the brainchild of GM head honcho Bob Lutz. For this particular event, Lutz challenged a group of auto journalists and rivate owners to bring their production cars to go up against his Cadillac CTS-V at the Monticello Motor Club in New York.
Apart from the so-called ‘bragging rights’, we really don’t know what Lutz will get out of this, especially if his car – the CTS-V – loses out to rival vehicles.
Then again, it does make for a pretty interesting race. The rules are still murky but we’re hoping that bumping and grinding are perfectly legal.
In any case, GM gave us a quick tour of the Monticello track, the site of what promises to be a wildly entertaining race.
In today’s fast-paced world, internet connectivity has become a necessity everywhere we go so it comes as no surprise that car manufacturers are all going gaga over the prospect of having dealer-installed routers on their vehicles. The first brand to do this was Chrysler when it put Autonet routers on its vehicles about a year ago. Chrysler was then followed by Volkswagen, which had the service installed on the Routan a few months ago.
The latest to hop on the bandwagon is General Motors. After signing a deal with Autonet, the Detroit-based manufacturer will now be offering the service for a number of car lines under its umbrella, including GMC, Chevrolet, Buick, and Cadillac. The Wi-Fi hotspot created by the service extends within 150 feet of your car and without an encryption key to keep your connection private, all those that fall within that radius would be able to access free internet connectivity.
According to Sterling Pratz, the CEO of Autonet Mobile, “Ninety percent of customers prefer surfing the Internet over just watching movies. “Customers want the biggest brands the Internet has to offer in their car, such as Facebook, YouTube and FlyCast Internet radio.”
The in-car Internet service for GM is bound to attract a lot of customers, especially those that cant seem to stay away from being connected to the Internet for longer than five minutes. The service comes with an installation price of $500 and a monthly charge of $29 a month for a service capacity of 1 GB.
More than any other industry in the world, the automotive business has the capacity to remind us just what the future may look like. It may not smell of grandeur like other scientific fields, but the auto industry can give us sneak peeks of what may be in store for all of us somewhere down the road.
Take General Motors for example. After launching its new Lab website, GM has given us a slew of cars that could one day – all things considered, of course – end up roaming the streets in the future. The brand’s latest offering is the Buick Avant, which, in addition to being innovative in every sense of the word, could also become the standard bearer of scaled-down models among high-end car brands.
If futuristic cars become topics of discussion, the Buick Avant should be right in the thick of the conversation. It’s got a cargo space that automatically brings the luggage to the passenger, it’s got doors that seemingly swings and slides every which way, and what GM is calling a pergola roof, which turns translucently depending on what the driver wants.
It’s innovation at its finest, and you can check out the video to learn more about the car.
GM’s eBay experiment hasn’t gone the way the Detroit-based automakers would have hoped. After becoming the first car manufacturer to officially use the popular auction site in an effort to boost car sales, the program has gotten off to a rather sputtering start.
GM initially listed 16,228 cars on eBay since the program was launched in August 11. Since then, the company has only recorded 45 sales – less than 1% of its total listed cars.
While the online purchase has been a flop, the silver lining behind it, according to Automotive News, GM has made more dealership sales after prospective customers check out the item online before trooping down their local dealerships to make the purchase.
Another positive thing GM can take from this experiment is the fact that their eBay site has generated a ton of interest, which, of course leads more publicity. It’s not exactly the end-result that the company is looking for but when you’re selling less than 1% of your total listed cars two weeks into this six-week experiment, you’ll take any form of good news any way you can get it.
The program is set to end on September, after which GM will have to decide on whether or not to continue with the eBay tie-up. At this point, the rather lukewarm response to the whole program may be enough reason for GM to pull the plug out and concentrate more on promoting their cars in a non virtual kind of way.
In a time where General Motors’ car sales continue to take a dive, GM is looking at every available nook-and-cranny to find ways on selling their vehicles. As it turns out, they may have found a place that has potential. eBay.
As part of its post-bankruptcy strategy, GM is planning on selling their cars through eBay Motors, which incidentally, starts today. We know the Internet has redefined the way the whole world works but we’ve never come across a car company selling their products on the Web, much less on an on-line auction site. But we can’t fault them for thinking out-of-the-box either.
Under this new program, 225 out of 250 GM dealerships in California will be selling a host of GM brands on the site including Chevrolet, Buick, Pontiac, and GMC. If you check the website, it has easy-to-follow steps on how you can purchase a brand-new GM vehicle on the site. Some of the items have bottom line ‘Buy it Now’ prices whereas others can be purchased in the old-fashioned eBay way: auctions. The eBay partnership also allows prospective buyers to purchase their cars without having to go to their local dealers to make an inquiry or a purchase.
This is actually the first time GM and eBay have been involved together, a surprising fact considering that a number of dealerships have used eBay Motors to sell their vehicles in the past. Nevertheless, the GM-eBay marriage is set to begin today until the trial program ends on September 8.
The automobile industry is going through a tough on a global scale, and thing have gotten especially bad here at home, severe enough that the U.S. Government has stepped in to offer incentives to new car buyers to trade in their worthless clunkers. Both Chrysler and General Motors have gone through bankruptcy hearings and are undergoing major restructurings, at the moment it looks like Ford is standing at the top of the hill. Despite the poor outlook, the General has plans for a very bright future and they involve a few changes in the Cadillac lineup.
First of all there will be a production version of the Cadillac CTS Coupe, it will first make a debut as a concept in February and go into production in May, the road going model will then be followed up with a factory tuned high performance V-Series version a few months later. The CTS Coupe will be powered by a gasoline direct injected V6 that will deliver 270 HP. The big boy CTS-V on the other hand, will be powered by a 556 HP 6.2 Liter supercharged V8, the same engine that is found in the sedan.
Cadillac is also preparing a new concept car called ATS, the production version of the ATS will be available in both sedan and coupe body styles and is the General’s answer to the entry level luxury category dominating BMW 3-Series. While the larger Cadillac DTS is set to be replaced by a new model that is much sleeker, currently known as the Cadillac XTS, a model to be placed on top the Buick LaCrosse.
The more mundane next generation Chevrolet Malibu will go into production in 2012, while an all-new midsize model from Buick is scheduled to go into production in the next 24 months.
It seems like a PGA calendar isn’t complete without a Buick-sponsored event being mixed somewhere in there. But after everything that’s happened in the auto industry, the fifty-year partnership between Buick and the PGA has now reached the final hole.
For the longest time, Buick has been an institution in the US pro golf circuit, having sponsored a plethora of golf tournaments – including two big PGA events, the Buick Open and the Buick Invitational – over the years. The car brand’s latest tournament – and apparently, last one too – occurred barely a week ago when Tiger Woods bagged his fourth Buick Open title.
Details regarding the amicable split have been kept under wraps but if you’re one to read between the lines, it seems that GM’s current restricting may have had something to do with it.
GM’s restructuring has long been an open secret, especially considering that the company was dangerously close to being shelved altogether. Now that their slowly getting back on their feet, GM is hard at work in re-establishing their brands to once again become the major players they once were.
Maybe now Bob Lutz has learned a lesson about making promises he can’t keep. It wasn’t that long ago when the high-ranking GM official talked to Automobile Magazine and all but guaranteed that the Pontiac G8 would be spared from the chopping blocks and be re-christened as the Chevrolet Caprice.
Lutz’ declaration was met with raised eyebrows, especially those coming from GM CEO Fritz Henderson who previously said that the G8 – and all subsequent Pontiac models – would cease to exist by the end of the year. Turns out that Lutz may have bitten off more than he could chew and in a recent entry on GM’s blog took back his proclamations and said that upon further review, the supposed G8-turned-Caprice wouldn’t make too much sense given the unstable state of the US auto industry.
It can be argued that Steven Rattner, the head of US President Barack Obama’s auto task force was the person responsible for saving the US auto industry. After all, he was the one who oversaw the bankruptcies of both GM and Chrysler and he was the one who initiated the bail-out plan that ultimately saved both companies from extinction.
And now, after only six months on the job, Rattner has decided to call it a day, filing his resignation, which was announced by the White House last Monday. Rattner’s decision - he said was brought about because he wanted to go back home to his family in New York – has resulted in talks that he relinquished his post due to an investigation regarding an investment scandal.
According to the Associated Press, Rattner has become the subject if an investigation with regards to a state pension fund that provides numerous benefits to more than a million government employees. That, of course, comes at the heels of another controversy involving Rattner and his association – he’s an investor - with Cerberus Capital Management, which, incidentally was the former owner of Chrysler.