general motors

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GM’s radical new concept

General Motors, GM, plans to mass-produce autonomous cars that lack traditional elements such as steering wheels and pedals.

The car will be the fourth generation of its driverless, all-electric Chevy Bolts, which are currently being tested on public roads in America.

By 2019, General Motors plans to safely introduce self-driving cars to our roads.

The Bolts will primarily be deployed as ride-hailing vehicles in a number of cities.

“GM’s integrated development of hardware and software, and testing in one of the most complex environments in the world, allows for the company to safely eliminate the steering wheel, pedals, and manual controls from the new Cruise AV,” the company said in a statement.

GM plans for the autonomous cars to be launched in 2019 outmanoeuvring rivals in the increasingly hyper competitive race to build and deploy robot cars. 

Ford has said it will build a steering-wheel-and-pedal-less autonomous car by 2021, while Waymo is preparing to launch its first commercial ride-hailing service featuring fully driverless minivans (though still with traditional controls).


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GM files patent

A newly issued U.S. patent shows that General Motors are planning to protect pedestrians by way of external airbags.

Dated December 5, and originally filed for patent protection in 2014, the US Patent and Trademark Office issued the patent to GM Global Technology Operations LLC, and in the documents it’s being described as a “fender-located pedestrian protection airbag.”

GM’s drawings for its pedestrian airbags reveal the position of the safety devices.

The external airbags appear to be located at the front side of a vehicle and are hidden behind a “discrete door,” which is located at the top of the wing just underneath the hood and just in front of the A-pillar.

GM states that the exterior airbags are designed to protect pedestrians from impact near the front of the vehicle’s structure. The intent is to cushion the blow pedestrians experience when they are struck by an oncoming car.

Automakers usually like to keep their latest developments behind closed doors but due to the accessibility of the public U.S. Patent Office files, we can take a look at what GM is working on. 

Tom Wilkinson, a spokesman for General Motors, recently told the Autoblog website that “the pedestrian protection airbag could become an important engineering solution in the future.”

If you would like to read the patent yourself, then you can do so here, at the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s website.

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Auto industry’s first commerce platform

General Motors said it will equip it’s latest cars with the automotive industry’s first commerce platform for on-demand reservations and purchases of goods and services.

With ‘Marketplace,’ drivers can order and pay for their favourite food, and much more, with a simple tap on the dashboard.

GM lets customers order their morning coffee with their car.

Marketplace allows customers the opportunity to more safely interact with a growing number of their favourite brands in retail, fuel, hospitality, food, hotel and transportation through the in-vehicle touchscreen.

Marketplace also features a “Shop” section dedicated to offers specific to GM vehicles, for instance purchasing Wi-Fi data, discounts for an oil change or deals on GM accessories. Simple on-screen notifications can identify relevant offers.

“The average American spends 46 minutes per day on the road driving. Leveraging connectivity and our unique data capabilities, we have an opportunity to make every trip more productive and give our customers time back,” said Santiago Chamorro, vice president for Global Connected Customer Experience, GM.

“Marketplace is the first of a suite of new personalisation features that we will roll out over the next 12 to 18 months to nearly four million U.S. drivers.”

“For most retailers and consumer brands the daily commute is the only time not accessible in a consumers’ day,” said Chamorro. “Marketplace gives merchants the ability to more safely engage with drivers and passengers in a meaningful way that provides true value for our customers.”

Marketplace is designed to be used while driving. It uses machine learning from real-time interaction data, such as location, time of day and a driver’s established digital relationship with third-party merchants.

GM designs its in-vehicle systems to minimise manual interactions, which in turn allows drivers to keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel.

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GM to launch autonomous ride-share vehicles

General Motors, GM has announced they are set to launch commercial autonomous ride-share vehicles at scale within two years.

This is all down to GM wanting to reduce the costs of self-driving technologies and move into service-based operations such as ride sharing.

The automaker expects to deploy the fleets in “dense urban areas” by 2019, GM President Dan Ammann said during an investor event Thursday in San Francisco.

Revenue from the fleets, he said, is forecast to be in the billions soon after launch.

The comments during the investor event are the first public confirmations that GM plans to enter ride-sharing against Uber and Lyft, which the automaker invested $500 million in last year.

GM did not specify where the fleets will launch.

The company is currently testing a third-generation of self-driving vehicles in several states in the United States and has plans to begin testing in New York City next year.

Ammann said GM expects to the cost-per-mile of its autonomous ride-sharing vehicles under $1 by 2025 — a key, he said, to achieving profitable scale. 

“We see a pretty clear path on how we can do that,” he told investors, citing GM’s plans for “Rideshare 2.0” with autonomous vehicles that don’t require paying drivers a majority of their revenue.


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Canadian workers strike against GM

A tentative agreement has been made with striking workers at the CAMI assembly plant in Ingersoll, Canada, according to a statement from vehicle manufacturer General Motors.

Some 2,500 workers at the plant in southern Ontario, walked off the job on September 18, after the automaker decided that the factory would not be delegated as the lead production site for the Chevrolet Equinox model in North America.

“These members have shown incredible courage and strength by standing up for good jobs and a secure future for their families and their community,” says Jerry Dias, president of Unifor National.

The automaker had threatened to ramp up the production of the SUVs at two plants in Mexico.

The assembly plant strike is Canada’s first since 1996.

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US car sales slump continues

Sales dropped by 4.7 per cent in the United States in the month of April, as the top three automakers posted sales slumps.

April was the fourth month in a row where sales decreased in the US.  This is the longest period of time that sales have stayed at a slump in eight years.

Ford Motor CO and American Honda both fell by approximately seven per cent, while Fiat-Chrysler fell by 6.8 per cent and General Motors posted a decrease in sales of 5.8 per cent. Meanwhile Toyota’s sales fell by 4.4 per and the company’s luxury Lexus brand posted an 11.1 percent slide.

Volkswagen was the only manufacturer to post an increase in profits with a 1.6 per cent profit. The overall sales figure of 27,577 units was still low in comparison to other manufacturers, however the business is still recovering from it’s recent emissions cheating scandal, where the company was fined $2.8 billion.

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Venezuela authorities seize GM plant

General Motors has immediately ceased its operations in Venezuela after a judicial seizure of its assets on Wednesday.

Local authorities took control of the plant, which was established in 1948, and seized company assets, including vehicles, the car maker said in a statement.

The seizure, dubbed illegal by General Motors, follows a week of heavy protests in Venezuela. Falling oil prices, the country’s main export and backbone of its economy, has brought in a heavy and ongoing economic recession.

According to General Motors, their Venezuelan division employs 2,678 factory operators and oversees 79 dealers, with a service network of over 3,900 further workers.

General Motors will ensure that separation benefits to employees will be paid “as far as the authorities permit”, and plans to undertake further legal action within and outside of Venezuela.

Dealers will continue to provide aftermarket services and parts for local customers.

The car industry in Venezuela has recently plummeted, following a lack of raw materials due to stagnant local production and widespread economic depression, and Reuters says many plants are barely producing at all.

Ford has already abandoned its interest in Venezuela. In 2015, the car maker wrote off all investments and undertook an $800 million pre-tax writedown.

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GM job cuts

Job cuts are imminent at General Motors, with plans to cut 2,084 jobs at its assembly plants in Lordstown, Ohio and the Lansing Grand River plant in Michigan.


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