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Auto Business Isn’t Sustainable in Current Form, Warns GM Report

Maker calls for expanded focus on sustainability, connectivity.

by on May.20, 2014

The Cadillac ELR is the latest in the line-up of GM's electrified offerings.

The automobile industry is unsustainable in its current form, according to the latest version of General Motors’ corporate environmental and sustainability report.

GM – and its competitors – will need to make significant changes in the coming years to just about every aspect of the business, from the technology used to power vehicles to the high-tech gear that will keep motors connected. But even the basic manufacturing process will have to be transformed, the report stressed, with environmental issues at the forefront.

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“People care about more than the cars,” said GM CEO Mary Barra in the report’s covering letter. “They care how we build them, and how we engage with the world around us. This knowledge, and the discipline that flows from it, is transforming our approach to product design, manufacturing, safety, quality, the environment, customer care and a host of other areas at a remarkable pace,” Barra said.


GM Has Big Plans for Expanded Battery Lab

Detroit maker expands R&D center in push for better range.

by on Sep.17, 2013

Work gets underway at GM's expanded battery research center in suburban Detroit.

Facing increasing competition in the battery car market as global makers like Nissan, Volkswagen and Toyota begin fielding an array of hybrids, plug-ins and pure battery-electric vehicles, General Motors has launched a major expansion of its battery development lab.

The move could prove critical not only in going up against GM’s traditional competitors but also new players in the alternative powertrain space, such as California battery-car start-up Tesla Motors. GM has confirmed plans to develop a vehicles that will deliver the extended range to challenge Tesla’s well-reviewed Model S.

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The research lab will also target ways to reduce charging times in an effort to make plug-based vehicles more practical in everyday use.

“GM is committed to vehicle electrification and our products in this area must continue to excite customers. A critical part of this plan is to deliver safe, reliable and affordable energy storage systems,” said Larry Nitz, GM’s executive director of global electrification engineering.


Tesla Lands on GM’s Radar

Detroit giant hopes to learn from upstart battery-carmaker.

by on Jul.19, 2013

What can GM learn from Tesla and its brash young founder and Chairman Elon Musk?

General Motors has confirmed the company’s Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson has commissioned a study of Tesla Motors, the upstart electric carmaker from Silicon Valley that has countered the generally weak market for battery cars by exceeding its sales forecasts this year.

According to GM vice chairman Steve Girsky, GM wants to be sure that Tesla doesn’t leave it behind in the field of automobile innovation. The start-up maker has generated almost universal raves for its Model S battery sedan and while it’s stock has taken some hits in recent days, Tesla shares are still up about 450% over the company’s 52-week low – and trading at more than three times higher than GM.

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The decision to study, rather than write off, Tesla reflects a very different attitude at General Motors since its 2009 emergence from bankruptcy, Girsky said during an interview on Bloomberg TV. “In the old days, they would’ve said, ‘It’s a bunch of laptop batteries and don’t worry about it and blah, blah, blah,’” Girsky said.


GM Planning to Export Spark EV

Sees opportunities in Korea and Europe.

by on Jul.17, 2013

A Chevy Spark EV charging.

General Motors plans to start selling its new Spark EV in South Korea by the end of the year and is preparing plans to launch the vehicle in Europe as well, Chevrolet officials tell

The Spark EV went on sale in California last month and while GM officials declined to offer sales projections for the Spark, they said they are quite optimistic about the long range prospects for the battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, particularly in key urban markets.

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“We expect growth in this segment,” said Chevrolet communications director Mike Albano.  “We’re bullish on the electric vehicle market.”

GM began selling the Spark EV, its first pure electric vehicle since the ill-fated EV1, last month. The base price for the battery version of the Chevrolet Spark subcompact is $27,495 – though that drops to $17,495 after the application of a $7,500 federal tax credit and another $2,500 credit from the state of California.


GM Plans to Have 500,000 “Electrified” Vehicles on Road by 2017

Emphasis is on plug-ins, though hybrids also included in the mix.

by on Nov.15, 2012

General Motors will put its next plug-in hybrid, the Cadillac ELR, into production in 2013.

General Motors expects to have as many as 500,000 “electrified” vehicles on the road by 2017, says the maker’s global product czar. That will include conventional hybrids, according to Senior Vice President Mary Barra, though the emphasis will be on plug-based models.

The automaker is steadily ramping up sales of various battery based vehicles, though demand has risen at a slower-than-expected pace for its Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid. Meanwhile, GM is expected to formally unveil its first pure battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, in more than a dozen years at the upcoming LA Auto Show.

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“Plug-based solutions will play a significant role in our technology portfolio going forward,” said Barra during a presentation of GM’s battery-electric strategy. While some of the new products under development will help GM meet government mandates, she stressed, “we’re not building (them) to check a regulatory box.”


Chevrolet Confirms New Spark EV Coming to LA

GM’s 1st battery car to share stage with other electrics.

by on Nov.14, 2012

An inside-out look at the new Chevrolet Spark EV.

Battery car proponents are getting charged up about the upcoming LA Auto Show. Chevrolet is the latest maker to confirm it will have some electrifying news to announce at the annual event – in the form of the new Spark EV.

The Chevy minicar will be General Motors’ first pure battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, since the much-heralded GM EV1 was pulled from the market after the 1999 model-year.

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“The Spark EV and next-generation of MyLink (Chevy’s new infotainment system) demonstrate Chevrolet’s commitment to delivering the advanced technologies that today’s consumers will be eager to adopt and truly value,” said Chevrolet General Marketing Manager Chris Perry.


GM Opens New Battery Center in China

“Critical” enabler for future electric vehicle programs.

by on Aug.20, 2012

A worker at the GM battery lab in China.

General Motors China has opened an advanced development center in Shanghai where researchers and engineers will work on the development of next-generation vehicle battery systems.

The decision is no coincidence.  With its endemic smog problems, China has set strict new mandates for the use of electric propulsion and could become the leader, many experts believe, in the development of battery technology.

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“Producing the first prototype battery cells is a big step forward for the GM China Advanced Technical Center. It is critical for enabling GM to develop smaller, lighter and lower-cost new-generation batteries,” said John Du, director of GM China’s China Science Lab.


GM Exec Says Chinese Venture Will Focus on New Battery Car

China will not get access to Chevy Volt technology, insists senior executive.

by on Sep.20, 2011

GM will not provide the Chinese with the technology secrets of the Chevy Volt, a senior official insists.

General Motors’ new joint venture with its Chinese partner SAIC will focus on the development of an all-new battery-electric vehicle, a senior GM official says.

The U.S. automaker will not provide the Chinese with intellectual property for what many see as its crown jewel, the extended-range electric vehicle Chevrolet Volt, insisted Vice Chairman Steve Girsky.  But, during a media conference call hosted from Shanghai, the former Wall Street analyst acknowledged that GM will be sharing significant intellectual property with its Chinese partner.

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The deal, signed today by GM officials and their counterparts at the Shanghai Automotive Industrial Corp., is the latest in a series of partnerships between the two manufacturers.  It will take aim at what some believe could become the fastest-growing segment in the booming Chinese automotive market.


GM to Share Proprietary EV Tech with Chinese

Move raises numerous concerns.

by on Sep.20, 2011

GM Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson with his SAIC counterpart Hu Maoyuan during today's signing ceremony in Shanghai.

Under pressure from the Beijing government,t General Motors has agreed to provide access to its proprietary electric vehicle technology to its lead Chinese partner.

The move is raising numerous concerns, critics contending that China is, for one thing, using unfair pressure to gain access to technologies that will later be used by its own domestic manufacturers to compete with foreign brands like GM.

But the U.S. automotive giant contends the move will help it maintain a lead in the rapid electrification of the industry – especially since China, now the world’s largest automotive market, is making a rapid push into battery power to curb its dependence on foreign oil and reduce its endemic pollution problems.

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“We can accomplish far more by working together than we can by working separately,” said Tim Lee, president of GM International Operations, during a signing ceremony with the maker’s lead Chinese partner, the government-owned Shanghai Automotive Industrial Corp., or SAIC.


GM Inks Another Big Battery Car Deal

Following deal with A123, GM will also partner with LG Chem on battery car development.

by on Aug.25, 2011

GM CEO Dan Akerson and LG COO Juno Cho sign a new battery car development deal.

Even as skeptics question the market potential for the groundbreaking Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid, General Motors is charging into the battery world with the latest in a series of deals aimed at making it a leader in electric propulsion.

The maker will expand its current alliance with Korean battery supplier LG Chem, the two partners saying they will work together on the development of new electric vehicles.  Precisely what type of products they hope to bring to market remains to be seen, but GM has already announced it will launch more Volt-based plug-ins, including a new model for Cadillac.  And, using batteries from LG Chem’s rival, A123, the Detroit maker is expected to launch its first pure battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, in 2014, reported earlier this month.  (For more on the A123 project, Click Here.)

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“Many solutions for tomorrow’s transportation needs may be available more quickly by building on our partnership strategy,” said GM Vice Chairman Steve Girsky. ”Consumers benefit by getting the latest fuel-saving technology faster if we work with the best suppliers and we save time and money in the development process.”