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    Drew Dowdell

    Starting price 2,800 €

    General Motors is launching a new brand to sell electric bikes in Europe. The brand, ARĪV (pronounced Arrive) will launch first in German, Belgium, and the Netherlands, countries where lithium-ion powered bikes are already popular.
    Two models will be offered, the Meld at 2,800€ and the foldable Merge (shown above) at 3,400€.  
    Both bikes include Bluetooth technology for riders to track metrics such as speed, distance, battery level, and more. A USB port is included to help charge riders phones while underway.
    GM's experience in automotive EV technology was used for developing the powertrain on these bikes. The motor provides top of the segment torque for its size and enables speeds of up to 25 kph. The ARĪV battery charges from empty in about 3 1/2 hours with up to a 40-mile range on a single charge.
    Shipments of the bikes are scheduled to begin in Q2 of 2019.

    William Maley

    Expected to take a couple of weeks

    Today is not a pleasant day if you're a white collar employee at General Motors. Last Friday, reports came out that GM would begin significant layoffs on their white-collar workforce. 
    Back in November, GM announced that it would be slashing 8,000 white-collar workers as part of plans to reduce costs. Already, 2,250 workers have agreed to voluntary buyouts. This leaves 5,750 workers waiting to be cut. But a GM spokesman Pat Morrissey said the number of people being laid off will be roughly around 4,000 people. Morrissey also confirmed that the layoffs will take around two weeks to complete.
    "This will be implemented staff-by-staff and location-by-location over the next couple of weeks. We’re not going to get into which departments and when and where it’s happening. Some staffs have already implemented this over the last few weeks, but there’s more of it this week and next week," said Morrissey to the Detroit Free Press.
    Various unnamed GM employees have told the Free Press they have been told about the cuts either by leadership or through email. One unnamed employee said the cuts were to begin at 9:30 A.M. and continue till 6:30 P.M.
    The severance package being offered to workers will depend on how long they worked at GM. According to Automotive News, those who have worked at the company for 12 or more years will get a similar package to those who took the voluntary buyouts late last year - executives got a full- year of pay, while non-executives got six months. Health care benefits would be continued as part of the package.
    Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), Detroit Free Press

    William Maley

    Remember how we said it may get ugly? Yeah..

    "Yesterday, General Motors met with representatives with Canadian union Unifor - the second in less in two weeks. Talks centered around Oshawa with Unifor pleading to reconsider plans of phasing out products at the plant to keep 3,000 jobs. But those talks went nowhere as GM is moving forward with their restructuring plans.
    "Unfortunately, all Unifor’s proposals would involve substantial incremental costs and a further deterioration of GM’s competitive position. Having completed an analysis of Unifor’s proposals, GM has determined that it cannot pursue them because they would not combat the declining economic and market factors that must be addressed," wrote GM's vice president of manufacturing and labor relations Gerald Johnson and president of GM Canada Travis Hester to Unifor president Jerry Dias in a letter.
    Unifor had proposed a number of ideas to GM keep Oshawa open including "continuing production of older trucks while the company looks for a longer-term option," according to The Detroit News. GM said no to the various ideas, but will support "retraining opportunities for Oshawa employees and working with businesses in the region to help facilitate relocation when the plant phases out production."
    Dias wasn't too happy with the result of talks, saying at a press conference yesterday that GM leaders "in my opinion haven’t reached deep enough or far enough to find a solution. We are not accepting the closure of our Oshawa facilities under any circumstance."
    Workers at Oshawa's afternoon shift staged a sit-down protest yesterday starting around 5:00 P.M. and lasting till 9:45 when GM decided to send them home. Photos and videos posted to Unifor Canada show workers sitting at their stations and buzzers sounding off. Automotive News reports that a second sit-down protest took place this morning for 90 minutes at 8:00 A.M.
    “We understand our union’s frustration but need to now work together to deliver support, transition and training for our employees for new opportunities over the coming year,” GM Canada spokeswoman Jennifer Wright.
    It is unclear if the protests will continue or how much production was lost. What is certain is that Unifor will hold a mass rally in Windsor on Friday.
    Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), The Detroit News

    William Maley

    Succeeds Dan Ammann who will be heading up Cruise Automation

    Aside from announcing fourth-quarter sales numbers, General Motors had another big announcement today. GM's Product chief Mark Reuss will succeed Dan Ammann as the company's president. The appointment is effective immediately according to the company. 
    “I am very proud to have spent my entire career at General Motors, and to now take on this new role is truly a great honor. With our current lineup of outstanding cars, trucks, and crossovers around the world, I’m looking forward to keeping our momentum going at full speed,” said Reuss in a statement.
    In November, GM announced Ammann would step down as GM President to take charge of GM's Cruise Automation unit.
    Reuss will still be overseeing GM's Global Product Group and Cadillac, but will also add the responsibility for GM's quality organization. He will also be tasked with building out a product development team that will focus on autonomous and electrified vehicles.
    Source: General Motors

    Mark Reuss Named General Motors President
    DETROIT — General Motors (NYSE: GM) today announced the appointment of Mark Reuss as company president, effective immediately. Reuss currently leads the Global Product Group and Cadillac and will now assume responsibility for the Quality organization.
    “Mark’s global operational experience, deep product knowledge and strong leadership will serve us well as we continue to strengthen our current business, take advantage of growth opportunities and further define the future of personal mobility,” said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra. “Mark has played a critical role in leading the development of the company’s award-winning vehicles while transitioning his team to prepare for growing electrification and autonomous technologies.”
    According to Reuss, “I am very proud to have spent my entire career at General Motors, and to now take on this new role is truly a great honor. With our current lineup of outstanding cars, trucks and crossovers around the world, I’m looking forward to keeping our momentum going at full speed.”
    Reuss added responsibilities for Cadillac and global portfolio planning in June 2018. Since then, he has been building an integrated product development and Cadillac organization to support an accelerated product and technology launch cadence and the brand’s global growth plans. Cadillac will be introducing a new vehicle every six months through 2021.
    Reuss has also been leading the transformation of the company’s global product development workforce and processes to drive world-class levels of engineering in advanced technologies and improve quality and speed to market. He is doubling the resources allocated to electric and autonomous vehicle programs in the next two years.

    William Maley

    Joining Tesla in the 200,000 EV sales club

    We've known for some time that both Tesla and General Motors would soon be reaching the 200,000 sales mark for electrics, meaning that $7,500 tax credit would begin phasing out. Yesterday, we reported Tesla cut prices on their 2019 model year vehicles to soften the blow. But what about GM?
    A source told Reuters that GM hit the 200,000 model milestone during the fourth quarter of last year - most likely happening in December. This begins the 15-month phase-out which will see the credit drop to $3,750 in April, $1,875 in October, and then disappear next April. GM declined to comment about this, but we're likely to find out later this morning as the company will be announcing fourth-quarter sales.
    Source: Reuters

    William Maley

    That's a bit of rude awakening 

    General Motors got a rude awakening if they picked up a copy of the Detroit Free Press or Detroit News. Right on the front page is a large ad by Canadian union Unifor accusing GM executives of having the lack of support toward Canadian and U.S. plant workers after announcing certain products would be "unallocated" and bringing up the possible worry of plant closures.
    One ad says, "U.S. and Canadian workers made GM," that follows with the question, "Why should our jobs and our products go to Mexico? Keep our plants open."
    Automotive News notes that the ads weren't in any Candian papers. The most likely reason for that is that Unifor officials would be meeting with GM today at the Renaissance Center.
    “GM needs to know that we are not accepting their announcement. It is crystal clear to myself and the leadership of the union that GM is leaving Canada. The newspaper ads are to let them know we are dead serious,” said Unifor president Jerry Dias.
    Dias said the ads are to show GM that it will have “a real problem” selling new vehicles to consumers on either side of the border starting next year.
    “GM has betrayed consumers in Canada and the United States. People are finally saying to GM, ‘You have gone too far.’ This is going on on both sides of the border,” he said.
    GM in an emailed statement to Automotive News said, "The GM restructuring decisions are extremely difficult for all of us in Oshawa, but we believe the best approach is to work together to support our employees including support for local training and transition initiatives in the Durham Region. We remain strongly committed to Canada and will continue to engage in dialogue with Unifor."
    GM also confirmed the meeting with Unifor but declined to provide any details about it.
    Kristin Dziczek, vice president of Industry, Labor & Economics at the Center for Automotive Research said Unifor faces an uphill battle with GM as their negotiations don't till 2020, a year after the UAW does theirs.
    "The UAW is going to go after any new product allocations for their two plants that are set to close and others that are underutilized," she said.
    "If there's product to be got, the UAW is going to go after it first."
    Dziczek also notes that Unifor's ads have "somewhat have a point" regarding GM's plants in Mexico, which are more utilized than many plants in Canada and the U.S.
    "They have to look like they're fighting like mad, and there are lots of ways of doing that. This is one way."
    We have a picture of the ad from the Detroit Free Press below if you're interested in what it looks like.
    Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)

    William Maley

    Hoping to mitigate some of the damage caused by the announcement

    General Motors' upcoming restructuring plan where more than 10,000 jobs will be cut and five factories losing products has caused many politicians to become very upset. Yesterday, CEO Mary Barra traveled to Capitol Hill to try an mitigate the social damage by this announcement. Those expecting Barra to backpedal or balk under pressure from various lawmakers on moving production of certain vehicles out of Mexico to plants in the U.S. would come away disappointed. 
    “I want to make sure that the workforce knows that there are limitations and we do have an overcapacity across the country. I understand this is something that impacts the country and I understand that there is a lot of emotion and concern about it,” Barra told reporters in a press conference after meeting Senators Sherrod Brown (Democrat) and Rob Portman (Republican) of Ohio.
    The two senators have been critical about the plan and pushed Barra in their meeting to get a new product in Lordstown, whether that be one of the 20 new EVs GM is planning or move production of the Chevrolet Blazer from Mexico.
    “GM says it expects to build 20 new EVs in next five years. We want one or more of those vehicles to be built in Lordstown, Ohio. That’s where it belongs,” said Portman.
    Barra said during the meeting she'll "keep an open mind but she doesn't want to raise expectations."
    Speaking to Reuters, Barra said it would “very costly” to shift production from Mexico of the Chevrolet Blazer that will begin shortly. But she did mention "GM planned to add other products at U.S. plants next year." Whether that includes Lordstown or not remains to be seen as negotiations with the UAW kick off next year.
    President Donald Trump has been very critical of this plan, saying he could eliminate federal subsidies on electric cars - something that would hurt other automakers more than GM as it's close to 200,000 mark where the $7,500 subsidy begins to fade. When asked about this, Barra gave an indirect answer.
    “I understand this is something that impacts the country and I understand that there is a lot of emotion and concern about it,” said Barra.
    She continued by saying GM wanted to “do the right thing for our employees but also make sure General Motors is strong and lean in the future.”
    Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), Detroit Free Press, Reuters
    GM Statement: Chairman and CEO Mary Barra on meetings with members of Congress from Ohio and Maryland

    “I had very constructive meetings with members of Congress from Ohio and Maryland. I share their concerns about the impact the actions we announced last week will have on our employees, their families and the communities. These were very difficult decisions -- decisions I take very personally. I informed the members that many hourly employees at the impacted U.S. plants will have the opportunity to work at other U.S. GM plants and that we are committed to working with them to minimize the impact on the communities. I also informed them that all salaried GM workers impacted by these actions are being offered outplacement services to help them transition to new jobs.”

    William Maley

    Removing products may have caused a Pandora's box to be unleashed before negotiations between GM and UAW begin next year

    General Motors' announcement to idle and possibly close five plants next year comes around the same time that the company begins their negotiations with the United Auto Workers (UAW). Already, the UAW has said they would go "through every legal, contractual and collective bargaining avenue open to our membership," to try and keep the plants.
    GM's rationale for the move is to improve profitability and help reduce the underutilization of its plants. As we reported last week, GM represents 1 million of the 3.2 million units of underutilized capacity in the U.S. through October.
    We should note that GM did not say they were going to close down the plants. They used the word "unallocated". We'll let The Detroit News explain why.
    Emphasis mine. Under the current contract, GM cannot close or idle any plant unless it is done through the collective bargaining process. By not providing any future products, GM may have found a loophole they can use in the negotiations. But it may have opened up a Pandora's box. 
    "This was long planned through intentional strategic investment decisions and product movement over our objections. They may have kept the news about it quiet, but this was planned and had to be gradually executed long before sales numbers were known,” the UAW said in a statement to the News.
    "GM and the UAW will talk about numerous topics that affect our employees and our business during 2019 negotiations. As always, our intent is to work with the UAW constructively to address our business challenges in a way that keeps the company competitive in these changing market conditions," GM said in a statement.
    Source: The Detroit News

    William Maley

    Five factories are on the chopping block

    This morning, General Motors announced an overhaul of its operations in 2019 which will involve cutting more than 10,000 workers and possibly closing five plants by the end of the year. GM said the cuts should boost cash flow by six billion by the end of 2020.
    “The actions we are taking today continue our transformation to be highly agile, resilient and profitable, while giving us the flexibility to invest in the future. We recognize the need to stay in front of changing market conditions and customer preferences to position our company for long-term success,” said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra in a statement.
    The plants up for possible closure are,
    Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly in Michigan - Home to Buick LaCrosse, Cadillac CT6, Chevrolet Impala, and Chevrolet Volt. Lordstown Assembly in Ohio - Home to Chevrolet Cruze. Oshawa Assembly in Ontario, Canada - Home to Cadillac XTS, Chevrolet Impala, and finishing production of last-generation Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra Baltimore Operations in Maryland (Propulsion) Warren Transmission Operations in Michigan Hints of this announcement came out last night when reports from CTV and The Globe and Mail in Canada reported the closure of Oshawa.
    The plant closures also mean a number of models being dropped - including the LaCrosse, CT6, Impala, and Volt. The Cruze will be built in Mexico for other markets.
    It was expected GM was going to make some changes to address the underutilization of its plants. Dara from the Center for Automotive Research says GM represents 1 million of the 3.2 million units of underutilized capacity in the U.S. through October.
    This announcement comes on the eve of negotiations with the UAW next year and Unifor in 2020. The UAW has announced that it will challenge GM's decision "through every legal, contractual and collective bargaining avenue open to our membership."
    The announcement has brought pushback from politicians. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed "deep disappointment" with the decision. U.S. Senator Rob Portman, a Republican from Ohio express frustration with the possible shutdown of Lordstown.
    One group not disappointed with the news is Wall Street. GM stock rose 6.18 percent to $38.00 per share at the time of this writing.
    Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), Bloomberg, Reuters, Twitter, General Motors

    General Motors Accelerates Transformation
    Transforming the global enterprise to advance the company’s vision of Zero Crashes, Zero Emissions, Zero Congestion Taking cost actions and optimizing capital expenditures to drive annual run-rate cash savings of approximately $6 billion by year-end 2020 DETROIT – General Motors (NYSE: GM) will accelerate its transformation for the future, building on the comprehensive strategy it laid out in 2015 to strengthen its core business, capitalize on the future of personal mobility and drive significant cost efficiencies.
    Today, GM is continuing to take proactive steps to improve overall business performance including the reorganization of its global product development staffs, the realignment of its manufacturing capacity and a reduction of salaried workforce. These actions are expected to increase annual adjusted automotive free cash flow by $6 billion by year-end 2020 on a run-rate basis.
    “The actions we are taking today continue our transformation to be highly agile, resilient and profitable, while giving us the flexibility to invest in the future,” said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra. “We recognize the need to stay in front of changing market conditions and customer preferences to position our company for long-term success.”
    Contributing to the cash savings of approximately $6 billion are cost reductions of $4.5 billion and a lower capital expenditure annual run rate of almost $1.5 billion. The actions include:
    Transforming product development – GM is evolving its global product development workforce and processes to drive world-class levels of engineering in advanced technologies, and to improve quality and speed to market. Resources allocated to electric and autonomous vehicle programs will double in the next two years. Additional actions include: Increasing high-quality component sharing across the portfolio, especially those not visible and perceptible to customers. Expanding the use of virtual tools to lower development time and costs. Integrating its vehicle and propulsion engineering teams. Compressing its global product development campuses. Optimizing product portfolio – GM has recently invested in newer, highly efficient vehicle architectures, especially in trucks, crossovers and SUVs. GM now intends to prioritize future vehicle investments in its next-generation battery-electric architectures. As the current vehicle portfolio is optimized, it is expected that more than 75 percent of GM’s global sales volume will come from five vehicle architectures by early next decade. Increasing capacity utilization – In the past four years, GM has refocused capital and resources to support the growth of its crossovers, SUVs and trucks, adding shifts and investing $6.6 billion in U.S. plants that have created or maintained 17,600 jobs. With changing customer preferences in the U.S. and in response to market-related volume declines in cars, future products will be allocated to fewer plants next year. Assembly plants that will be unallocated in 2019 include: Oshawa Assembly in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada. Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly in Detroit. Lordstown Assembly in Warren, Ohio. Propulsion plants that will be unallocated in 2019 include: Baltimore Operations in White Marsh, Maryland. Warren Transmission Operations in Warren, Michigan. In addition to the previously announced closure of the assembly plant in Gunsan, Korea, GM will cease the operations of two additional plants outside North America by the end of 2019.
    These manufacturing actions are expected to significantly increase capacity utilization. To further enhance business performance, GM will continue working to improve other manufacturing costs, productivity and the competitiveness of wages and benefits.
    Staffing transformation – The company is transforming its global workforce to ensure it has the right skill sets for today and the future, while driving efficiencies through the utilization of best-in-class tools. Actions are being taken to reduce salaried and salaried contract staff by 15 percent, which includes 25 percent fewer executives to streamline decision making. Barra added, “These actions will increase the long-term profit and cash generation potential of the company and improve resilience through the cycle.”
    GM expects to fund the restructuring costs through a new credit facility that will further improve the company’s strong liquidity position and enhance its financial flexibility.
    GM expects to record pre-tax charges of $3.0 billion to $3.8 billion related to these actions, including up to $1.8 billion of non-cash accelerated asset write-downs and pension charges, and up to $2.0 billion of employee-related and other cash-based expenses. The majority of these charges will be considered special for EBIT-adjusted, EPS diluted-adjusted and adjusted automotive free cash flow purposes. The majority of these charges will be incurred in the fourth quarter of 2018 and first quarter of 2019, with some additional costs incurred through the remainder of 2019. 

    William Maley

    The end of the previous-generation Silverado and Sierra will begin early next year

    General Motors took a page out Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' playbook by continuing the build the outgoing-generation Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra alongside the next-generation models in an effort to keep sales up. But sooner or later, the previous-generation models will end production. When is that?
    During GM's third-quarter earnings call, CFO Dhivya Suryadevarat said the automaker would begin winding down production the K2 crew cab models early next year, followed by double cab and regular cab models beginning in "the early second half of next year." 
    GM's Oshawa, Ontario plant has been helping with the production of the outgoing models. According to Automotive News, Oshawa receives unfinished Silverado and Sierra double cab bodies from the Fort Wayne, Indiana plant. Models are painted and undergo final assembly. Known as the "Oshawa shuttle," it started at the beginning of the year and would add heavy-duty pickups and a second production shift in the summer. GM spokeswoman Kim Carpenter told AN the program is expected to "run into late 2019 based on market demand."
    Production of the next-generation (T1) pickups began in July at Fort Wayne, followed by double cab models last month. GM's Silao, Mexico plant will begin production of the regular and crew cab models in January. Unlike FCA, which experienced a number of problems with the launch of the next-generation Ram 1500, GM was able to deliver 45,000 next-generation pickups in the third-quarter.
    The big question is what happens to the hourly workers building the trucks at Oshawa. GM declined to comment, but AN speculates they could be laid off or moved to other positions.
    Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)

    Drew Dowdell

    Revenue and Income both up strongly

    GM reported an income of $2.5 Billion for the third quarter of 2018 today with strong showings in North America, China, and GM Financial.  Automotive operating cash flow was up by $1.3 billion to $2.5 billion. Overall earnings per share diluted was $1.75.
    In North America, margin is up to 10.2% driven mostly by sales of all-new full-size trucks and continued good sales of crossovers, China reported equity income of $0.5 billion, while GM Financial reported revenues of $0.5 billion. 
    During the period, GM delivered nearly 700,000 vehicles in the US with average transaction prices of $36,000.  In China, sales were up 10% year to date to nearly 836,000 vehicles. In China, Cadillac continues to do well, up 4% year over year and up 20% year to date.  Bolt EV production is being increased by 20% to meet growing demand.
    Source:  General-Motors-Q3-2018-Earnings-Press-Release.pdf

    William Maley

    That 2019 goal seems so far away

    By the end of next year, GM's self-driving car unit was planning to have a fleet of self-driving taxis available those in San Fransisco, California. But a new report from Reuters casts some serious doubts on this goal.
    Speaking to a number of current and former GM and Cruise Automation employees, and autonomous vehicle technology experts, Reuters' report paints a picture of various issues that could derail Cruise's goal.
    The driverless Cruise vehicles (Chevrolet Bolt EVs) have struggled to determine whether objects on the road are moving or stationary. Example: Vehicles have stopped or hesitated when driving past a group of parked bicycles or motorcycles. Software has failed to identify pedestrians, "and has mistakenly seen phantom bicycles, causing the cars to brake erratically" Sources claim that software also slows the messages between the car’s sensors and computers Cruise doesn't have a data-sharing collaboration with the San Francisco Fire Department - necessary to train the cars when a fire truck is responding to an emergency. Numerous milestones have been missed such as logging a million miles a month by early 2018. Cruise is aware of the various issues. CEO Kyle Vogt told Reuters said the next-generation of hardware and software would solve various issues. 
    General Motors' President Dan Ammann said that the 2019 goal would only move forward "if the Cruise system achieves the safety standards the automaker has established, and shown to regulators."
    At the current moment, that goal seems quite far away.
    Source: Reuters

    William Maley

    The two will join forces to build a new autonomous vehicle

    General Motors' self-driving unit, Cruise got a huge boost today from Honda. Today at a press conference, the two companies announced a new deal where Honda will invest $2.75 billion ($750 million upfront for a 5.7 percent stake and the remainder to be invested over the next 12 years) and will work together on developing a purpose-built self-driving vehicle.
    Speaking at GM's technical center in Warren, MI, CEO Mary Barra said Honda would provide "additional engineering, design, and technology expertise" and help assist Cruise's “global reach and the ability to deploy at-scale.”
    “Together, we can provide Cruise with the world’s best design, engineering and manufacturing expertise, and global reach to establish them as the leader in autonomous vehicle technology – while they move to deploy self-driving vehicles at scale,” said Barra in a statement.
    Honda's investment comes five months after Japanese holding conglomerate SoftBank invested $2.25 billion into the unit.
    Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), General Motors

    Honda Joins with Cruise and General Motors to Build New Autonomous Vehicle
    Honda investment of $750 million values Cruise at $14.6 billion SAN FRANCISCO — Cruise and General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) announced today that they have joined forces with Honda (TYO: 7267) to pursue the shared goal of transforming mobility through the large-scale deployment of autonomous vehicle technology.
    Honda will work jointly with Cruise and General Motors to fund and develop a purpose-built autonomous vehicle for Cruise that can serve a wide variety of use cases and be manufactured at high volume for global deployment. In addition, Cruise, General Motors and Honda will explore global opportunities for commercial deployment of the Cruise network.
    Honda will contribute approximately $2 billion over 12 years to these initiatives, which, together with a $750 million equity investment in Cruise, brings its total commitment to the project to $2.75 billion.
    In addition to the recently announced SoftBank investments, this transaction brings the post-money valuation of Cruise to $14.6 billion.
    “This is the logical next step in General Motors and Honda’s relationship, given our joint work on electric vehicles, and our close integration with Cruise,” said General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra. “Together, we can provide Cruise with the world’s best design, engineering and manufacturing expertise, and global reach to establish them as the leader in autonomous vehicle technology – while they move to deploy self-driving vehicles at scale.”
    “Honda chose to collaborate with Cruise and General Motors based on their leadership in autonomous and electric vehicle technology and our shared vision of a zero-emissions and zero-collision world,” said Honda Executive Vice President and Representative Director COO Seiji Kuraishi. “We will complement their strengths through our expertise in space efficiency and design to develop the most desirable and effective shared autonomous vehicle.”
    “With the backing of General Motors, SoftBank and now Honda, Cruise is deeply resourced to accomplish our mission to safely deploy autonomous technology across the globe,” said Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt. “The Honda partnership paves the way for massive scale by bringing a beautiful, efficient, and purpose-built vehicle to our network of shared autonomous vehicles.”

    William Maley

    Deals with the electric power steering system

    General Motors is recalling 1,015,918 pickup trucks from the 2015 model year due to a problem with the electric power steering (EPS) system. In a letter published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration yesterday, the EPS may momentarily lose assist before regaining it.
    "If EPS assist is lost and then suddenly returns, the driver may have difficulty steering the vehicle, especially at low speeds, increasing the risk of a crash," wrote NHTSA.
    The models affected include,
    Cadillac Escalade Chevrolet Silverado Chevrolet Suburban Chevrolet Tahoe GMC Sierra GMC Yukon The fix is simple as dealers will update the EPS software. No word on when GM will begin the recall.
    GM issued a similar recall for about 700,000 Chevrolet and GMC trucks in the US last year.
    Source: NHTSA (PDF)
    Pic Credit: William Maley for Cheers & Gears

    William Maley

    GM's other subcompact crossovers come into focus

    Yesterday, we brought forth some spy photos of a new GMC subcompact crossover. At the time, we couldn't be certain to this as the two mules caught were under a lot of camouflage. But today we are confident in this as a fresh set of spy photos have come in revealing next Buick Encore and Chevrolet Trax.
    Both of the mules seen in the photos were caught testing on General Motors' proving grounds outside of Detroit. The Encore appears to be taking the evolutionary approach with its redesign. There is still the rounded shape and rising glass on the rear doors. A similar grille design to the Regal is up front. Chevrolet is taking a more drastic approach with the next Trax. The frumpy styling of the current model is out and a design inspired by the new Blazer is in. We can make out the split headlight arrangement and a large grille for the front. Other details that jump out include a wide hood and sharp corners.
    Its unclear whether or not both models will still use Gamma-2 or transition to the VSS-S architecture.
    Source: Autoblog, Motor1

    William Maley

    Hiding in plain sight

    When General Motors decided to study the Ford F-150 to help make the next-generation Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra, they sent engineers to the front door of where the F-150 is built. 
    According to Reuters, engineers went on a public factory tour of Ford's Dearborn truck plant to study how Ford was building them. Special attention was paid to workers attaching aluminum body panels to the trucks. After watching and timing the fitment of parts with stopwatches, GM engineers found some problems.
    “They had a real hard time getting those doors to fit,” said Tim Herrick, executive chief engineer for GM truck programs.
    Focusing on the doors, engineers bought F-150 doors as parts and took them apart. What they realized is that they could cut weight in their trucks with a combination of aluminum and thinner high strength steel for a lower cost. 
    GM could have gone all-aluminum with their trucks. Herrick said the debate at the company “was a really hotly contested item for us.” But at the end of the day, the decision to use mixed metals will allow for a larger profit on the trucks.
    “We think we have thousands of dollars advantage (over Ford) just in the aluminum costs. It’s big,” said Herrick.
    Source: Reuters

    William Maley

    But not in the way you might expect

    Tripower is one of General Motors' most revered names. Used on Pontiac V8 engines from 1957-1966, Tripower referred to the use of three two-barrel carburetors on top of the engine. GM is bringing back the name for the next-generation Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra. But in this case, Tripower carries a very different meaning.
    At the CAR Management Briefing Seminars yesterday, Mike Anderson, GM's executive director of global transmission and electrification hardware engineering said Tripower will now "refer to a suite of technologies that boosts horsepower and fuel economy" for the new 2.7L turbo-four. According to Automotive News, Tripower will include cylinder deactivation, intake valve lift control, and active thermal management.
    The new engine is expected launch sometime after the new trucks begin arriving at dealers this fall.
    Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)

    William Maley

    Cadillac will begin rolling out Super Cruise on other models beginning in 2020

    Since the launch of Super Cruise on the 2018 Cadillac CT6, General Motors executives said the technology would expand to other brands. But they didn't give a timeframe as to when.
    Today at the Intelligent Transportation Society of America conference in Detroit, GM product chief Mark Reuss said Super Cruise would begin rolling out to Buick, Chevrolet, and GMC models after 2020. This will follow Cadillac's expansion of the technology to other models beginning in 2020.
    Super Cruise is "a feature that customers routinely come into dealerships asking about, shopping for, and specifically ordering," said Reuss in a speech.
    "Making it available in every Cadillac on the showroom floor just makes sense."
    GM also announced plans to introduce vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communications in a high-volume Cadillac crossover by 2023. This technology will allow the vehicle to communicate with everything from infrastructure to a person's smart phone to get information on construction, traffic lights, and other road hazards. This technology will expand to other Cadillac models in the future.
    Source: The Detroit News, Cadillac

    Cadillac to Expand Super Cruise Across Entire Lineup
    Super Cruise to roll out to other GM brands V2X communication debuts in Cadillac crossover in 2023 New York — Cadillac plans to expand the rollout of Super CruiseTM, the world’s first true hands-free driver assistance feature for the freeway. Super Cruise will be available on all Cadillac models, with the rollout beginning in 2020. After 2020, Super Cruise will make its introduction in other General Motors brands. Cadillac also plans to offer V2X communications in a high-volume crossover by 2023 and eventually expand the technology across Cadillac’s portfolio. Mark Reuss, GM executive vice president of Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain, announced these plans at the Intelligent Transportation Society’s annual conference in Detroit Wednesday.
    “The expansion of Super Cruise and V2X communications technology demonstrates Cadillac’s commitment to innovation, and to making customers’ lives better,” Reuss said. “GM is just as committed to ushering in a new era of personal transportation, and technologies like these will enable it.”
    Reuss’ comments reaffirm GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra’s pledge in her keynote address at the 2014 ITS World Congress, where she announced Cadillac would begin offering advanced intelligent and connected technology in its vehicles.
    “Cadillac is proud to be the leader for the company’s innovation,” said Steve Carlisle, Cadillac president. “Groundbreaking technologies like these continue to provide unparalleled comfort and convenience for our customers.”
    The Super Cruise driver assistance feature is made possible by precision LiDAR map data, high precision GPS, a state-of-the-art driver attention system and a network of camera and radar sensors. It requires an active OnStar service plan with emergency services to function. Customers can drive hands-free on more than 130,000 miles of limited-access freeways in the U.S. and Canada. The driver attention system helps to keep drivers engaged and detects when drivers need to pay more attention to the road. Even while using Super Cruise, drivers must always pay attention and not use a handheld device.
    Cadillac introduced vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications on the CTS sedan in 2017, which uses Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DSRC) technology. Using the Basic Safety Message as a base, V2V can be extended to the roadway infrastructure and other roadway users (e.g., cyclists, pedestrians, etc.) establishing a V2X ecosystem. Using V2X, compatible vehicles can be notified of hazardous road conditions, traffic light statuses, changing work zones and more. With a range of nearly 1,000 feet, drivers can be alerted to possible threats in time to avoid a crash.

    William Maley

    But for how long?

    It has been a tense couple of months at GM Korea. Back in February, the company announced a restructuring plan for the division which included the closure of the Gunsan plant (one of the four plants operating in South Korea), and voluntary redundancies for 2,600 workers to stem the hemorrhaging of cash. Recently, GM has been pushing its workers’ union for concessions that would total $80 million. This is part of an effort to get a $500 million injection from the South Korean government to pay suppliers and workers. The workers union weren't buying, threatening to strike and trashing company executive offices earlier this month. Then GM threw down the gauntlet, either agree to the concessions by April 20th or we begin bankruptcy proceedings.
    “Without concessions from the labor union and clear resolution from stakeholders, the company has no choice but to go ahead with rehabilitation proceedings,” said GM Korea executive Kaher Kazem in an email to employees.
    Unfortunately, the date passed with no agreement and it seemed bankruptcy was on the horizon. But both GM and union rep would continue to talk over the weekend to see if a deal could be reached. At the 11th hour, an agreement was reached.
    “Through the latest agreement, GM Korea will be a competitive manufacturing company,” said Kazem in a statement today.
    According to Reuters who got to see the deal, the union agreed to freeze base wages, skip bonuses for this year, and cut back on benefits.
    “The labor union made huge concessions to save the company,” said Hong Young-pyo, a lawmaker of the ruling Democratic Party who worked on the mediation between the two groups.
    A union spokesman declined to comment when contacted by Reuters, only saying that workers will vote on the agreement later this week.
    The deal now allows the Korean government to fund Korea Development Bank (KDB) - the second largest shareholder in GM Korea - to provide support. It also allows GM to allocate two new models for the region. But some analysts are still uncertain as to the future of GM Korea. Labor costs, poor sales, and expensive export costs have some wondering if GM is in it for the long run or are planning an exit strategy.
    “GM has extended the lifeline of GM Korea, but not sure how long it will last,” said Lee Hang-koo, a senior research fellow at Korea Institute for Industrial Economics & Trade.
    Source: Reuters

    William Maley

    To begin after March's numbers come out

    Ahead of releasing this month's sales numbers, General Motors has announced that it will start reporting sales quarterly instead of monthly.
    “Thirty days is not enough time to separate real sales trends from short-term fluctuations in a very dynamic, highly competitive market. Reporting sales quarterly better aligns with our business, and the quality of information will make it easier to see how the business is performing,” said Kurt McNeil, U.S. vice president, Sales Operations in a statement this morning.
    GM cites many reasons for the change to quarterly reporting - weather, product launches, number of selling days, incentives, and seasonal factors.
    “It’s not that (GM) doesn’t want to talk about how many cars they are selling or if they’re having a bad month. They’re still going to report everything quarterly,” explained IHS Markit analyst Stephanie Brinley.
    “It changes the tone of the story, because with month-to-month results it is difficult to really get a good picture of the industry.”
    "I understand the reasons they are doing it. There can be a lot of fluctuation during a month," said Michelle Krebs, executive analyst with Autotrader to Automotive News.
    Krebs went onto say that other automakers might consider following General Motors lead. She used the example of Chrysler which ended the practice of reporting sales-figures for 10 days in 1991. Other automakers would follow suit, but it took some time. GM didn't make the switch till 1994.
    "What happened was they decided to go monthly, and everybody did it. That would make me believe everybody is going to follow suit and follow GM's lead."
    But this move could bring forth some unattended consequences. Monthly sales numbers are used by many people and industries to help gauge the economy. It could also make estimates made by third-parties not fully reflect the automaker’s performance.
    “Right now, the market looks at whether someone comes in above or below forecasts. If GM’s sales are estimated monthly, those estimates could be really high and then the results come in lower when you look at quarterly sales. That could have unintended consequences.”
    But the inverse - GM posting higher sales numbers than what was estimated - is also true.
    One thing is certain, we just don't know how this is going to work out.
    Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), The Detroit News, General Motors
    Press Release is on Page 2

    GM to Begin Reporting U.S. Sales on a Quarterly Basis
    DETROIT – General Motors announced today it will begin reporting its U.S. vehicle sales on a quarterly basis, effective immediately. In 2018, second quarter sales will be released on July 3, third quarter sales on October 2 and fourth quarter sales on January 3, 2019.
    “Thirty days is not enough time to separate real sales trends from short-term fluctuations in a very dynamic, highly competitive market,” said Kurt McNeil, U.S. vice president, Sales Operations. “Reporting sales quarterly better aligns with our business, and the quality of information will make it easier to see how the business is performing.”
    In the auto industry, monthly sales are subject to many issues that make them more volatile than quarterly sales, including product launch activity, weather, other seasonal factors, the number of selling days and incentive activity.
    GM’s high level of transparency on total, brand and nameplate sales, fleet mix and inventory will not change. The company will also continue sharing J.D. Power PIN estimates for incentive spending and average transaction prices.
    The company’s March 2018 U.S. sales will be released today at 9:30 a.m. EDT.

    William Maley

    Could take on services like Turo

    If you happen to be an owner of a General Motors vehicle and are looking to earn some cash, then a new pilot program might be of interest. Bloomberg has learned from sources that GM is planning to launch a program where owners can rent out their vehicles when they aren't driving them - think AirBnb for cars. This will be launch through GM's Maven car-sharing service sometime this summer. A GM spokesman declined to comment.
    This appears to be another part of GM's plan to transition from manufacturer to mobility provider. GM already has their car-sharing service Maven and invested $500 million into ride-hailing service Lyft.
    This idea of allowing owners to rent out their vehicles isn't new. Companies like Turo and Getaround have been doing the same thing for a number of years. But Alexandre Marian, a director in the automotive and industrial practice at consultant AlixPartners LLP said GM could have one big advantage, having a huge network of vehicle owners that could be part of the service.
    But there is a big risk for owners who decide to offer their vehicles up for rent, what happens if they get into an accident? Maven provides liability coverage for its renters. If you offer your vehicle through Turo have the choice of adding commercial coverage through their own insurance or one of the insurance companies that have partnered with the service. We're expecting GM to have some solution in place if they decide to go forward with this program.
    Source: Bloomberg

    William Maley

    Another one of GM's International Operations Could be on the Chopping Block

    This past year has seen General Motors not be shy with scaling back operations in various international markets. The company sold off Opel/Vauxhall to PSA Group, ended sales of Chevrolet vehicles in India, and closed down their operations in South Africa. Now, GM's Korea operations are on the chopping block.
    Last week, GM CEO Mary Barra revealed that company officials were in discussion with minority owners and union officials that could lead to "some rationalization actions or restructuring."
    "We're going to have to take actions going forward to have a viable business," said Barra during a conference call talking about GM's 2017 financial results.
    Sales of GM vehicles in Korea have dropped 20 percent, while manufacturing costs have increased. This has made South Korea a poor place to export vehicles to other markets.
    This week, GM announced that it will shutter the Gunsan plant (one of the four plants operating in South Korea). The plant employs 2,000 out of the 16,000 workers employed at GM Korea. GM said the reason for the closure came down to high labor costs and low output. The plant only operated at 20 percent of its capacity last year according to Reuters. Unsurprisingly, the news angered the South Korean government and workers at the plant. 
    “The government expresses deep regret over GM’s one-sided decision to suspend and shut down” the plant, the finance ministry said in a statement.
    The ministry said it wants to conduct an audit of GM's operations help with the restructuring plan.
    As for workers at Gunsan plant, workers staged a protest yesterday, declaring the move a “death sentence”, and threatening a strike.
    “Let’s protect our right to live on our own,” said Kim Jae-hong, the leader of the workers’ union at the Gunsan branch.
    A GM Korea spokesman said the company "would continue discussions with the union and seek their understanding over the closure plan." Workers though aren't fully buying this.
    “We can’t accept this. The company informed us about the closure plan, not asking for our opinion. It was already the end of the discussions,” Dang Sung-geun, a senior official at the union of GM Korea told Reuters.
    “This is like a death sentence notice before the Lunar New Year holidays.”
    Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), Bloomberg, Reuters (2)

    William Maley

    More crew cabs are expected to be rolling off the production line

    When the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra begin rolling off the assembly line sometime later this year, there will be a larger number of crew cabs.
    GM's vice president of global product development, Mark Reuss tells Automotive News that the company has been "constrained' when it comes to the output of their crew cab pickups, a segment that has seen its popularity increase in recent years. Reuss said the company is planning to increase capacity for crew cabs with their next-generation pickups.
    A Chevrolet spokesman said that crew cabs have grown from more than 50 percent of GM's truck sales in 2013 to more than 60 percent.
    Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)

    William Maley

    Europe isn't fully gone from General Motors

    Despite General Motors mostly leaving the European market with the sale of Opel and Vauxhall to PSA Group earlier this year, the automaker isn't ruling out a full-scale return.
    During a recent meeting of the Automotive Press Association in Detroit, GM CEO Mary Barra said the company would "absolutely" consider a return to the European market, adding that "nothing keeps us from going back." But it will be some time before GM decides to go back. According to Barra, the company would need to build out a lineup of "transformative products" like electric or self-driving vehicles to make it worthwhile.
    General Motors does have a small presence in Europe with Cadillacs being sold by 45 dealers - most of them in Germany and Switzerland. The Chevrolet Camaro and Corvette are also sold in small numbers.
    Source: Motor1

    William Maley

    The current-generation GM trucks will soldier on with the next-generation models

    The 2019 model year looks to be the year of the full-size truck. Alongside a redesigned Ram 1500, General Motors will be launching their next-generation Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups. The new trucks will be bringing a number of improvements such as a lower curb weight thanks to new materials, updated powertrains, and some new tech. But the current-generation pickups will be sticking around for some time.
    The Truth About Cars came across GM's 2019 VIN code documents that were submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In them, GM lists the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado Legacy and GMC Sierra Limited. These models will only be offered as a double cab with the 5.3L V8. Trims include base and LT/SLE. Production of these models will take place at GM's Oshawa, Ontario plant.
    Source: The Truth About Cars

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