The Emissions Drama Continues; GM Accused Of Installing Defeat Devices
Earlier today, we reported how Fiat Chrysler Automobiles was accused of installing defeat devices in roughly 100,000 diesel vehicles to help circumvent emissions standards, a scheme similar to what Volkswagen did in the infamous dieselgate scandal. Now, it’s looking like General Motors is next in line to feel the heat, as a new lawsuit alleges the automaker cheated on more than 700,000 diesel Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra trucks. This latest allegation makes GM the sixth automaker accused of using cheater software since the dieselgate scandal broke in 2015. Affected vehicles include Duramax Diesel Chevrolet Silverados and GMC Sierras between the 2011 and 2016 model years. The lawsuit is currently seeking class-action status, and was filed in U.S. District Count in Detroit in part by Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, the same firm involved in the VW dieselgate suit.
The lawsuit against GM alleges the damage created by the cheating GM vehicles could even exceed those of the cheating VW’s, with two to five times the legal limit of harmful emissions produced. GM was quick to respond with a statement, saying “These claims are baseless and we will vigorously defend ourselves. The Duramax Diesel Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra comply with all U.S. EPA and CARB emissions regulations.”
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Throwback Video: Where is This Cool Window Technology?
Car technology has been evolving like crazy in recent years. We have electric cars like the Tesla Model S that can go hundreds of miles on a single charge, infotainment systems that offer similar services to that of your phone, Wi-Fi hotspots available in most mainstream models, and let’s not forget about gesture and voice controls that are starting to become available in less luxurious models. TV screens that were once limited to expensive and complicated aftermarket installs have been replaced by removable tablets that they whole vehicle can enjoy. The list really goes on, but what about the technology that hasn’t made it into cars yet? One such example is this crazy window technology that could transform the way we stay entertained in the back seat on road trips.
A few years back, graduate students from Bezalel Acadamy was challenged by General Motors to come up with new conceptual experiences for rear seat passengers. What they came up with was the “Windows of Opportunity” project. In the video you’re about to watch, there is a big bulky projector displaying manipulatable images on the glass of a car door. I won’t go into full details, but it offers up the ability to draw on the window and can project an image from just about anywhere else on earth. It’s all about augmented reality really, but also offers the ability to leave social messages for other people on the road or play a game like hangman or Fruit Ninja, for instance.
When you think about it, a technology like this could be brought to the market today with micro projectors mounted inside the vehicle. But, it could also lead to a new type of transparent display that allows for touch input too, all while allowing a window to be rolled down and concealed within the door. Sure, it leaves the possibility for expensive repairs should something go haywire, but at the same time, it’s pretty freaking cool. The question is, however, where is this technology at? We’ve seen all kinds of other cool technology, and with autonomous cars on the horizon, it could make for a fun way to play games with the family between stops on road trips. Would this be a cool technology to have, or would you rather keep things simple? Check out the video, then let us know what you think in the comments section below!
Next OnStar System to Use IBM Artificial Intelligence to Annoy Drivers with Targeted Offers and Services
GM’s OnStar system is evolving and the latest iteration, dubbed OnStar Go, is set to make it into 2017 model year vehicles. The system will build upon the services already available in today’s models, including features like diagnostics, security monitoring, hands-free calling, and navigation services, among others. But, OnStar Go will also utilize IBM’s Watson artificial intelligence technology to “optimize the driver’s time in the vehicle.” What that really means is that GM and IBM have partnered up to bring targeted offers and services to anyone who owns a GM vehicle.
These “targeted offers and services” will be available at no charge as part of the free and basic five-year OnStar plan included with the purchase of every new vehicle that is properly equipped and has a 4G wireless connection. So far, these customized offers will come from companies like Exxon Mobil, iHeartRadio, Glympse, Parkopedia, and Mastercard. GM and IBM will reportedly share revenue generated from these offers with the aforementioned partners. The offers presented to drivers will be tailored to them based on their habits, location, and other factors like current weather conditions.
“IBM and GM are changing the whole notion of where valuable, daily rituals occur. The combination of IBM Watson and industry-leading OnStar connectivity will enable vehicles with intelligent branded skills and services to empower drivers and passengers,” said Paul Papas, Global Leader, IBM iX. “Simply put, OnStar Go with IBM Watson transforms time wasted in the car into time well spent.”
As an example of how the system will work, if the vehicle is running low on fuel, the system will recognize this and locate the nearest Exxon Mobil gas station. It will then, make it make it on the navigation screen and direct drivers in the proper direction. Apparently, users will also be able to make authorized payments from inside the vehicle has well.
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The Era of Small Engines in Europe Could be Coming to an End
The war on emissions has been on-going with automakers continuously pressed to lower emissions output from their vehicles year after year. Over in Europe, the strategy to meet stringent emissions regulations has resulted in the downsizing of engines and the addition of turbochargers to make up for the power deficit. As such, the average engine size in Europe is anywhere between 1.3- and 1.9-liters. The shrinking of engines has worked well for emissions tests in Europe up until now, but according to Reuters, new on-the-road emissions testing has shown that smaller engines actually fail to meet the latest standards. This being the case, automakers are being forced to rethink their strategy, and those smaller engines could be on the chopping block.
So how bad is it? Well, real-world testing has shown that most of the smaller engines currently in use – like GM’s 1.2-liter diesel and VW’s 1.4-liter, three-pot diesel – can produce NOx levels up to 15 times the current legal standard when driven at higher loads. Smaller gasoline engines of similar size lose fuel-efficiency and “spew fine particles and carbon monoxide.” Renault’s 0.9-liter H4Bt engine injects excess fuel to prevent overheating, which has been found to produce massive levels of unburned hydrocarbons, fine particles, and CO2. So, what can automakers do to meet the tougher emissions regulations that must be adhered to by 2019?
Automakers have largely remained silent as to what their strategy will be going forward. But, sources have indicated that Volkswagen, Renault, and General Motors are all preparing to upsize some of their best-selling smaller engines while others will be retired altogether. All three have declined to comment on specific plans so far, but Alain Rapos – the Head of Powertrain for Renault-Nissan – said, “The techniques we’ve used to reduce engine capacities will no longer allow us to meet emissions standards. We’re reaching the limits of downsizing.”
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GM Aims to use 100-Percent Renewable Energy by 2050
General Motors has pledged to use electricity produced entirely from renewable energy sources by 2050. The announcement comes in response to growing calls to become more sensitive to state of the environment. As part of its commitment to reaching its goal, GM also signed up to join the RE100, a collaborative, global initiative of influential businesses that are committed to using 100 percent renewable electricity, working to increase the demand for renewable energy. Included in the organization are some heavy-hitters from other business sectors, including Coca-Cola, Google, Bloomberg, Nike, and a familiar face in the auto industry, BMW.
A big part of General Motors’ plan is to completely use renewable energy, including wind, sun, and landfill gas, in powering its 350 operations in 59 countries all over the world. Considering that the automaker’s timetable is still 34 years from now, it’s hard to imagine what the auto industry is going to look like, let alone what the regulations are going to be in that time. If anything, GM is giving itself plenty of time to make the transition, although with the years it still has to reach that goal, there’s no telling what the automaker is transitioning itself into.
To be fair, the automaker has made some positive gains in getting to its goal. A GM PR representative recently told Autoblog that 3.8 percent of the automaker’s electricity will come from renewable energy. That already includes saving around $5 million a year from using renewable energy as part of a previous goal to promote the use of 125 megawatts of renewable energy by 2020. The automaker’s two new wind projects, which are expected to open later this year, would also help accomplish that 2020 goal as they are being prepared to help power four of the automaker’s manufacturing operations.
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GM Claims Plaintiffs are Fabricating Evidence in Texas Lawsuit Over Faulty Ignition Switch
With Volkswagen’s Dieselgate scandal taking up all the headlines, it was pretty easy for GM’s ignition switch problem to be overshadowed. Well, now that all the hype over VW has started to subdue a bit, GM is back in the headlines again. This time, however, it isn’t for another death or another new lawsuit, but because it is trying to get the judge to dismiss the first civil case being brought against it in Texas over the ignition switch issue.
Five years ago, Zachary Stevens was driving his 2007 Saturn Sky when he crashed into another vehicle, subsequently killing its driver. Stevens had manslaughter charges brought against him, but after claiming that the ignition switch rotation caused him to crash, and GM initiated a voluntary recall, the charge was ultimately dropped. As such, Stevens proceeded to file a civil lawsuit against GM, claiming it was at fault for the accident.
In GM’s initial filing, it claims that Stevens initially said he was driving with just a few items attached to his key, but the key shown to jurors more recently included a few more items like a gym membership car and an Eiffel Tower Souvenir. On top of that, GM is also claiming that the key itself did not, in fact, belong to the vehicle that was involved in the accident – claiming that Steven’s has “fabricated evidence” and that the alleged misstatements have “hamstrung the search for the truth.”
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GM, Isuzu Part Ways On Midsize Pickup Development
General Motors and Isuzu Motor Company have parted ways on developing midsize pickups. The two automakers came to the mutual agreement as GM focuses on higher-spec models, while Isuzu continues to cater to commercial markets. This ends a deal penned in 2014 for building midsized pickups as part of a joint product development arrangement struck in 2006.
An Isuzu spokesman told Reuters, “The direction each company wanted to take for the vehicles was changing.” A GM statement regarding the split echoed Isuzu’s, saying, "Both GM and Isuzu agree that due to unique requirements for each company, joint development of the next-generation midsize pick-up truck for (GM) markets is no longer the optimal model for this project."
Currently the automakers produce several models together. The Chevrolet Colorado (the global truck, not the U.S.-spec truck GM built on its own) and Isuzu D-Max are nearly clones of each other, with Chevy selling in Australia and the Middle East, while Isuzu is sold in Asia and other countries. Chevy also builds an SUV based off the Colorado and the Trailblazer, which also sold in Asia and Australia.
What’s more, the break-up allows for Isuzu’s partnership with Mazda – a joint venture announced in July 2016. Details are still scarce, but it’s likely the Mazda BT-50 and Isuzu D-Max will be replaced with a single pickup, badge-engineered for each automaker. We don’t expect either truck to be offered inside the U.S.
Nevertheless, GM and Isuzu will continue their partnership of building medium-duty commercial trucks. This partnership is only a year old, having been struck in June of 2015, but is reminiscent of the pair’s past partnership in the medium-duty segment, which ended in 2009.
The deal allows Chevrolet to badge-engineer Isuzu’s N-Series Low Cab Forward trucks as its own, while Isuzu benefits from having access to GM’s 6.0-liter gasoline V-8 for both Isuzu and Chevy versions of the N-Series. Overseas versions of the N-Series will come with a variety of Isuzu-built diesel engines.
GM’s next global midsize pickup will be developed in-house, allowing the automaker full control of its product. Expect to see a more luxurious and comfortable Colorado pickup debut in the next few years.
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General Motors has claimed that 124 deaths were the result of faulty ignition switches. The number is almost 10 times more than the 13 deaths the company admitted to about a year ago, but 214 short of the total 338 death claims filed. The findings come from an internally appointed review team that considered over 4,300 death and injury claims.
As you might expect, not everyone is satisfied with GM’s findings. The Detroit News spoke with the executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, Clarence Ditlow, who said the “burden of proof on the individual consumer was always too high,” and that it was impossible for some would-be claimants to produce sufficient documentation.
“The entire program was designed to get [sic] help get Congress and the Justice Department off GM’s back,” Ditlow told The Detroit News. “The one thing is clear that we will never know how many people were killed or injured because it goes back so far.”
In addition to the death claims paid, the General Motors compensation fund will also pay out 274 injury claims, but says there are still a few left to review. Of the 4,342 total claims filed, 338 of which were for deaths, about 91 percent were rejected. So far, GM has paid about $280 million in claims and expects that number to climb to $625 million. Several claims have been rejected or not yet accepted.
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Looking to reestablish itself as a global player in the luxury car segment, Cadillac has already moved its headquarters from Detroit to New York, but the brand’s president wants more segregation. Johan de Nysschen recently announced plans to create a separate business unit for Cadillac by 2017 to give the brand “a far higher degree of autonomy and self-sufficiency."
Such a plan would help Cadillac retain more profits, as de Nysschen also stated that the luxury division “makes a very sizeable contribution to the overall profit” of GM. And with a goal of almost doubling sales by 2020, Cadillac would be able to build up quite a nest egg. As far as new product goes, he said there will be a slight lull in launches following the upcoming rollout of the SRX-replacing 2017 Cadillac XT5, but a “massive product offensive” will commence in 2018.
In a more obvious move, Cadillac will also be splitting its dealerships apart from other GM brands, and said dealers might have the freedom to focus less on monthly sales and more on building long-term Cadillac customers. This part of Cadillac’s future makes perfect sense, especially since you don’t see newAudis and Volkswagens being sold under the same roof. But it will be interesting to see how this aspect of the plan plays out just six years after the GM bankruptcy dropped many franchises and forced more brands under the same roofs that were left.
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General Motors has just announced its plans to invest $1.4 billion into its Arlington Assembly Plant in Texas, which produces every Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, GMC Yukon, and Cadillac Escalade for the automaker. The investment is the largest of its kind from GM this year and will fund additions and upgrades to several key areas of the plant.
Arlington will receive major upgrades in its paint shop, body shop, and general assembly area. Ground will be broken this summer and construction is expected to last roughly three years. Daily operations at the plant will not be hindered by the construction and production of the full-sized SUVs will continue at its current pace.
Combined with its past investments since 2011, GM has poured nearly $2 billion into the Arlington Assembly Plant –making it one of the most advanced SUV assembly plants in the U.S.
Though GM did not make any comments on its future products, these upgrades are likely in preparation for the next mid-cycle refresh of the SUVs, which will probably come by 2018. Expect updates with exterior design, interior trim work, new colors and optional equipment, and the possible implementation of the 10-speed automatic transmission GM has been co-developing with Ford.
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The rumblings of GMC possibly building a Jeep Wrangler competitor appears to be gaining traction as the Wall Street Journal now reports the GM division has asked its dealership network for opinions on the possibilities of expanding its lineup. You may recall we’ve already heard GMC’s vice president Duncan Aldred speak on the topic back in November.
In that interview with Edmunds.com, Aldred admitted the GMC lineup had room for an “active all-road, Wrangler-esque type of vehicle.” He continued saying in regards to the automaker, "I have come to do a job and change the face of the brand. … We are looking at everything. What segments will grow? What segments will not? We are evaluating all possibilities that could really turbocharge the brand and the growth."
What’s more, the WSJ reports GM is considering implementing “cues and capability” from the Hummer brand. How far GMC would take the cues in the design process was not discussed further, but it seems the Aldred and the automaker are looking into incorporating the Hummer legacy into the potential Wrangler-fighter.
As I speculated in the earlier post, GMC does have the respected Jimmy name it could pull from retirement. Even more convincing is the realization GMC has use of the midsize Canyon pickup truck as the backbone of the new SUV. Its body-on-frame design is ideal for serious off-road duty. The Canyon’s powertrains would also translate over well.
This sharing system already worked for GM’s off-road SUVs in the past, as the Hummer H2 was based on the Chevy Tahoe while the H3 was based on the then-current Chevy Colorado. It’ll be interesting to see this rumor’s outcome.
Click past the jump to read more about GM’s future SUV.
General Motors plans to introduce a special-edition pickup truck wearing the "Nighfall Edition" badge in 2015, according to a trademark the manufacturer filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office earlier this month. AutoGuide reports the package will include "a black exterior, black grille, black five-inch assist steps, 18-inch aluminum wheels, polished exhaust tips, [a] spray-in bedliner, [a] remote start system and automatic climate control." Assist steps and bedliner? That’s a truck alright!
While this may be excellent news for truck enthusiasts, the filing does not specify which nameplate will receive the special package. Although anything is possible without official confirmation, we have a hunch the Nightfall Edition bundle is reserved for the special edition version of the GMC Canyon that’s scheduled to break cover at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show in January. The manufacturer has yet to unveil any details surrounding this truck, but it’s about time GM’s midsize truck gets a special production version after showcasing several concepts at the 2014 SEMA Show.
There’s also the possibility the Nightfall Edition goes to the Chevrolet Colorado, but the blacked-out exterior and the black-and-chrome body parts are more of a GMC thing. Either way, we’ll find out soon enough as the 2015 Detroit Auto Show is only three weeks away.
Click past the jump to read more about GM’s new ’Nightfall Edition’ Package.
It appears General Motors may be considering a Ford Raptor competitor in the near future, though not with the Silverado or Sierra. Reports from GM Authority suggest The General will use the upcoming midsize Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon as the truck of choice.
It seems GM has chosen the smaller trucks mostly due to their compact size and lighter weight, giving them more agility and potentially better handling. Along with being more agile, the smaller trucks will fit into tighter trails, like the famous Rubicon Trail in California — a trail the Raptor is simply too large to navigate.
There are really no solid details to go on, so speculation will have to suffice. It’s likely the new Raptor fighter will come with the largest engine offering, meaning the 3.6-liter V-6. Perhaps GM will allow the 2.8-liter turbo-diesel to power the off-roader as well. Beefy springs and shocks will be a must, along with larger off-road tires. Expect to see the Eaton G80 locking rear differential come standard along with a high-capacity cooling system for the engine and transmission. Generous underbody skid plating will also come included.
As far as naming the new GM truck, we could see a revival of the ZR2 nomenclature last used in regular production on the long-dead Chevy S-10. The name had a recent comeback on a Chevrolet Silverado concept truck back in 2011, but never gained any traction. We already know GM was pondering a “ZR2 package” back when the new Colorado/Canyon twins were revealed in 2013, so the likelihood is rather high the ZR2 will happen. Whether it’s a true Raptor fighter has yet to be seen. Stay tuned for further details.
Note: Chevrolet Colorado Rally Concept pictured here.
Click past the jump to read more about GM’s future Ford Raptor competitor.
In the automotive world, there are tons of developmental deals between car companies. You’ll see the likes of BMW and Hyundai teaming up, but that is no biggie, as the two don’t really compete with one another. Just like Toyota and Subaru teaming up on the Subascioyota triplets. Yeah, they are both Japanese car manufacturers, but they have distinctly separate demographics.
Well, to hell with competition and demographics when it comes to No. 1 and No. 2 of Detroit’s "Big Three" and falling behind in the automatic transmission wars. You see, most of the other major car companies boast multispeed transmission with gear numbers nearing double digits, as Chrysler, BMW, Audi and Lexus all boast 8-speed automatics and a smattering of others feature 7-speed units. GM and Ford, on the other hand, are still playing around with 6-speed units.
That is all about to change and the two arch rivals are actually helping each other out. The two rival companies with about as much bad blood as Iran and Pakistan have entered in what GM is calling a “Memorandum of understanding” to develop 9- and 10-speed transmissions for the two to share.
The details of the deal are not completely known yet, but we do know that GM will head up development of the 9-speed unit and Ford will take the lead on the 10-speed. We also know that the 9-speed transmission will be aimed at propelling the boring front-wheel-drive cars, as the 10-speed will be the unit we see in pickups, SUVs, and performance models.
This means that the chances are very high that your future Mustang GT could boast the same 10-speed transmission as a Corvette ZR1. Kinda creepy, huh?
So pack up your umbrellas in the coming days, as we anticipate seeing a high probability for thunderstorms of the froggy variety…
The best-selling luxury performance car in the U.S., the Chevrolet Corvette, has finally been inducted into the Sebring Hall of Fame after six decades of proving what it can do on the track. The induction is a great birthday present for the Corvette, since 2013 marks its 60th anniversary.
Corvette first competed at Sebring in 1956, and 231 Corvettes have since competed in the Twelve Hours of Sebring race. Corvette has racked up an impressive 24 class wins in this legendary race, with seven of these won by Corvette Racing, the most successful team in the history of the American Le Mans Series. In Sunday’s 60th anniversary race, Corvette Racing placed second and third in the GT Class.
“We are thrilled that Sebring has recognized the success of the Corvette on the race track by inducting it into the hall of fame,” said Russ Clark, Chevrolet marketing director for Performance Cars.
“Even more important than the awards and race wins are the benefits to our production vehicles as a result of our racing programs,” said Clark. “We have been successful at transferring racing technology to the street, especially in our high-performance vehicles such as the Corvette ZR1, Z06 and our carbon fiber models, including aerodynamic, powertrain, chassis, braking, safety and design features.”
Riding in the backseat of a vehicle for mile after monotonous mile can be very boring, and we all know the feeling. Maybe it was when you were a child going on family vacations. Maybe it was this morning in the carpool lane. Maybe your children have now been passed the boredom torch. Well, now, General Motors is looking to change all that.
GM’s newest project, Windows of Opportunity(WOO), is a revolutionary new concept being worked on by students and researchers at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Israel. The goal is to give the backseat passengers something to do by making the rear windows virtually touchscreen computers using "smart glass" technology. Imagine driving through a long stretch of unchanging desert and being able to change the scenery to, say, New York City. Or maybe you would prefer playing an interactive game with passing vehicles. Maybe you just want to draw pictures on the window, in color! GM is hoping this will all be possible one day through a series of apps accessed by the touchscreen rear window.
WOO was inspired by studies suggesting that rear seat passengers feel disconnected from their environment. GM has no immediate plans to implement this technology into vehicles, but, for us, it can’t come quick enough. Some of us have little ones in the backseat and DVDs only work for so long! This, we think, would be a much welcomed feature in future vehicles.
Check out the video above and let us know what you think of WOO.
As General Motors attempts to come out of its government owned era, it has the massive task of reinvigorating the American buyer. As with most large purchases, the American consumer is also rather uneducated. As we can see by the downfall of the housing market, all too often consumers over extend themselves and make poor decisions. Admittedly, the decline of the real estate market and the downfall of the big three automakers are due to completely separate reasons, but some similarities can be found.
One of the biggest struggles that General Motors will face in the coming years is making people believe that their product is superior to the competition. As emissions laws tighten and consumers become more environmentally conscious the problem for an automaker like GM is extrapolated. GM is a company built around its truck sales and the most environmentally unfriendly thing on the road this side of a Hummer is a heavy duty pickup truck.
However, General Motors has surprised us by coming out of bankruptcy so quickly and with so much vigor. Its new models are impressive and cross every segment that the company operates in. Many may think that this is the same old GM singing a new tune that will fade away soon, but the company has organized several events to educate the consumer and let them know that these changes are here to stay.
This past weekend we attended the Main Street in Motion event in Newport Beach, CA. Several years ago we were at a similar event in Las Vegas, Nevada, but this time things were a little different. General Motors brought their typical heavy hitter models like the Corvette, Camaro, Sierra, and Tahoe. They also included some of the newer, cleaner, and less known models like the Volt, Cruze, Acadia, and Tahoe Hybrid. Those who attended were able to test drive every model and see how each model handled when compared to the competition.
Hit the jump to read more about the Main Street in Motion event.
In the corporate world, things run a bit differently than they do in normal life. Business executives are treated to private planes, expensive dinners and big offices. Not to mention massive bonuses. General Motors on the other hand, has taken things to the extreme.
GM is holding auctions in 14 different states to get rid of some old materials. The most recent auction happened last week and they’ve been taking place since September of 2009. What makes this story interesting is some of the various items that were up for auction, like an abandoned Indiana church and a New Jersey golf course. We can find you 1,000 companies that have private planes and large headquarters, but find us one with a church and a golf course.
The next auction will be held on November 4th at the Pontiac Assembly Plant, so if you’re in need of some random items, stop up and place your bids. Each winning entry will help GM address its $275 billion debt.