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GM’s Fuel-Cell Tech May Soon Power Advanced Navy Project

Hydrogen power seen as key to long-range unmanned underwater vehicles.

by on Jun.23, 2016

A prototype Navy unmanned underwater vehicle could soon use a GM fuel-cell system.

Technology some see as the key to the future for the auto industry could also play a significant role for the U.S. military.

General Motors is teaming up with the U.S. Navy in the effort to develop a new generation of unmanned undersea vehicles that would rely on hydrogen fuel-cell technology to operate independently for as long as 70 days at a time. The technology would replace the more limited battery-drive systems currently in use in so-called UUVs, according to Navy officials.

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“If you want long endurance you really need fuel cells,” said Karen Swider-Lyons, head of the Alternative Energy Section at the Naval Research Laboratory.


GM Gets Four Bites on Sale of Wisconsin Plant

Automaker's oldest plant shuttered in 2008.

by on Jun.21, 2016

General Motors has four potential buyers for its facility in Janesville, Wisconsin. The plant, GM's oldest, was shuttered in 2008.

General Motors is entertaining four potential buyers for an old – actually the company’s oldest – assembly plant in Janesville, Wisconsin.

The report of the interest in the site first appeared in the Janesville Gazette.

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The Janesville plant, which over the years has become a symbol of the economic decline of Rust Belt, was put up for sale after the United Auto Workers agreed to change the status of the plant to closed permanently during the 2015 contract talks. (more…)

Child Car Heatstroke Deaths Surge; New Tech Could Help

But GMC system is far from foolproof.

by on Jun.14, 2016

The new GMC system is simple: if it senses you've opened the rear door it will issue an alert when you leave the vehicle.

A Mississippi father is facing charges of second-degree murder after leaving his infant child in an overheated car where it succumbed to heatstroke. But the death of eight-month-old Shania Caradine was far from a rare occurrence. So far, at least 12 children have reportedly died from heatstroke after being left in hot cars by their caregivers – a 240% increase from this time a year ago.

While experts say some of those incidents may have been intentional, the vast majority are considered an accident, a parent or caregiver becoming distracted or breaking from their normal routine. The challenge is to come up with a way to ensure that they don’t leave children – or other valuables – behind when they leave a vehicle.

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General Motors is offering a potential solution on its 2017 GMC Acadia SUV, a system it calls the Rear Seat Reminder. It’s designed to detect when a motorist puts something in the back seat and then issue an alert when they’re ready to exit the vehicle. Child safety experts are hailing the concept as a good first step – but they also lament the fact that several even more sophisticated systems promised over the years have failed to materialize.


General Motors Adds 700 Engineers in Canada

Influx of tech expertise part of GM’s autonomous vehicle push.

by on Jun.10, 2016

Unifor President Jerry Dias is pleased by the addition of 700 engineers, but said a strike was coming if GM didn't add new product to Oshawa, Ontario, plant.

General Motors is adding 700 engineers in Canada as it expands its research and development efforts for autonomous vehicles and other technologies.

The company made the announcement at its plant in Oshawa, Ontario, which has been the subject of much speculation. The site, which has been slated for closure three times and come back from the brink each time, is supposed to be shuttered in 2017.

The Last Word!

The new engineers will be based in Oshawa and another nearby plant in Markham, Ontario – both are suburbs of Toronto. The move comes on the heels of word from GM CEO Mary Barra that she is willing to talk about the Oshawa plant’s future with Unifor, the Canadian union representing hourly workers there. (more…)

Another GM Exec Crashes Through Glass Ceiling as New Manufacturing Chief

Alicia Boler-Davis is first woman and first African-American in critical post.

by on Jun.10, 2016

GM continues to increase the diversity of its senior management with the appointment of Alicia Boler-Davis as the head of manufacturing and labor relations.

General Motors made headlines and entered the record books when, in late 2013, it appointed Mary Barra as the first female CEO of a major automotive manufacturer. Now, Alicia Boler-Davis has crashed into the traditional, male-dominated auto industry club.

The 47-year-old GM veteran sets a few records of her own, in fact. She will become not only the first woman to direct the automaker’s manufacturing and labor relations operations, but also the first African-American. And she appears to be the first in such a position at any automotive manufacturer, as well.

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“With all the change facing our industry in the next several years, Alicia’s vast and diverse experience and proven track record for delivering results will help ensure our global manufacturing performance and capabilities are aligned to meet the challenges ahead,” said GM CEO Barra in a statement. (more…)

GM Discussing Fate of Canadian Plant

CEO Barra talks to union about Oshawa, examines plant plans.

by on Jun.10, 2016

GM's plant in Oshawa, Ontario, is slated to close in 2017. However, CEO Mary Barra is talking with the union about it.

General Motors is open to discussing the fate of the company’s assembly plant in Oshawa, Ontario, with the Canadian Auto Workers during the upcoming contract negotiations this summer.

Even as it pours more investment in GM plants in Mexico, the company’s current product plans call for leaving the Oshawa plant vacant by the end of 2017.

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However, Mary Barra, GM chairman and chief executive, told reporters in Detroit prior to the company’s annual meeting that GM had what she described as “constructive” discussion with Unifor, the union that represents Canadian autoworkers employed by GM. (more…)

Chevy Needles Ford About Lightweight Status

Ford still outselling Chevy through May.

by on Jun.08, 2016

Chevy fired another salvo in the escalating ad war against Ford, claiming the aluminum bed of the Ford is more easily damaged by everyday mishaps on the job.

While not quite to level of hype associated with “The Rumble in the Jungle” or the “Thrilla in Manilla,” the escalating war of words between Chevy and Ford went another round with Chevy challenging the toughness of Ford’s aluminum truck bed.

As part of its latest marketing salvo, Chevy debuted a series of new videos, including one featuring a Chevy Silverado and Ford F-150 getting more than 800 pounds of landscaping blocks dropped into the bed of each … and the aftermath.

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After the stones are removed, the rolled steel bed of the Chevy shows just scratches and a few dents while the F-150’s bed showed punctures and a crack. Then they allowed several “real people, not actors” to have a look. (more…)

GM Hits Diversity Milestone with Board Appointment

Half company's board is now women.

by on Jun.08, 2016

GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra is the most visible component of change in the male-dominated culture that used to exist at the automaker.

In an industry with a long history of being unfriendly to women, General Motors has passed what amounts to a unique and historic milestone.

Six of the 12 seats on General Motors board of directors are now occupied by women. One of the women directors is Mary Barra, who in 2013 was chosen by the board to become GM’s first female to serve as the top executive.

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The gender balance on the board was reached this week at GM’s annual shareholders meeting in Detroit when Jane Mendillo, the former head of Harvard University’s Management Co., which is responsible for investing the university’s endowment, replaced Steve Girsky on the GM board. (more…)

GM Favors Autonomous Vehicles with Driver Controls, Barra Says

GM CEO discusses autonomous strategy, corporate profits before meeting.

by on Jun.07, 2016

GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra speaks with the media prior to the company's annual meeting.

General Motors favors a regulatory approach requiring autonomous vehicles to be equipped with steering wheels and brake pedals.

Mary Barra, GM chairman and chief executive, told reporters before the automaker’s annual shareholders meeting that the company prefers regulations that mandate automated, self-driving vehicles to have steering wheels and brake pedals.

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The company has made sizeable investments in future technology, including the $1 billion acquisition of Cruise, a start-up company based on San Francisco focused on the development of autonomous vehicles, she said. (more…)

Land Rover Latest to Battle Chinese Over Car Clones

Jiangling Motors sued over Range Rover Evoque knock-off.

by on Jun.06, 2016

An Evoque by any other name? JLR sues Chinese maker Jiangling over Land Wind X7.

It takes a sharp eye to spot the differences: the subtle curve of the rear spoiler, the more rounded front grille and the slight changes to the taillights. But as far as consumers are concerned, the thing that likely matters most is that the Jiangling Landwind X7 costs barely one third as much as the Range Rover Evoque.”

And that has Britain’s Jaguar-Land Rover seeing red as it faces yet another Chinese knock-off blatantly stealing some of its business. That has been a problem faced by a number of foreign automakers – from little Smart, which has seen a Chinese clone of its Smart Fortwo, up to Ford, which has had its F-Series pickup copied down to the tie-downs in its cargo bed.

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JLR is aggressively pursuing a legal case, and it isn’t stopping at China’s borders, winning an injunction preventing the Chinese company from selling the X7 in Brazil, where Jiangling recently appointed an importer. But observers say the British firm could be in for a tough battle. A number of other makers have failed to get the courts to take action in similar lawsuits over the years.