GM to replace battery modules in recalled Chevy Bolt EVs starting next month

General Motors said Monday it will replace battery modules in recalled Chevrolet Bolt EV and Bolt EUV vehicles as soon as next month now that supplier LG Chem has restarted production of cells at two Michigan factories.

Replacement modules, which are made up of lithium-ion battery cells, will begin shipping to dealers as soon as mid-October, the company said. Chevy Bolt EV owners will be able to bring their vehicles to the dealership, where the old modules will be swapped out for new ones.

GM halted production of Chevy Bolt EV and EUVs in August due to a battery pack shortage related to the widespread safety recall of the two electric vehicles. The production downtime has been extended twice since then. Battery packs in EVs are comprised of modules.

The recall, which includes all Chevy Bolt EV and EUV models made since 2017, was issued after the automaker discovered two manufacturing defects in the battery cell — a torn anode tab and folded separator — that could increase the risk of fire. The fire risk prompted GM to recommend Bolt owners set the vehicle to a 90% state of charge limitation, avoid depleting the battery below 70 miles of range and charge the vehicle more frequently. GM still recommends owners park their Bolt EV and EUVs outside immediately after charging and to not leave vehicles charging indoors overnight.

LG has new manufacturing processes in place and has worked with GM to improve its quality assurance programs to provide confidence in its batteries moving forward. GM said the battery supplier will institute these new processes in other facilities that supply cells to the automaker.

Doug Parks, GM’s executive vice president of global product development, purchasing and supply chain, noted in a statement that resuming battery module production is a first step. However, GM’s Chevy Bolt EV problem is not entirely solved. The company must complete the replacement process for all recalled Bolts and assuage owners that the vehicles are safe to charge and park.

GM is counting on new advanced diagnostic software package to help. The company said it will launch the software package, which will need to be installed by dealers, in the next 60 days. The diagnostic software is designed to detect specific abnormalities that might indicate a damaged battery in Bolt EVs and EUVs by monitoring the battery performance.

The software will alert customers of any anomalies, according to GM, which said customers will be able to return to a 100 percent state of charge once all diagnostic processes are complete.

GM, which aims to add 30 new EVs to its global lineup by 2030, also must secure the battery cells it needs to power these vehicles. LG is its primary and longtime partner in this endeavor. Parks said GM will “continue to work aggressively with LG to obtain additional battery supply.

#automotive, #chevy-bolt-ev, #general-motors, #gm, #recall

GM extends Chevy Bolt EV production shutdown through mid-October

General Motors is extending the shutdown of its Orion Assembly Plant until at least mid-October as a result of a battery pack shortage related to the recently announced Chevy Bolt EV and EUV safety recall. Bloomberg first reported that the company intends to idle its plant through the week of October 11.

“These most recent scheduling adjustments are being driven by the continued parts shortages caused by semiconductor supply constraints from international markets experiencing COVID-related restrictions,” the company said in a statement. “We remain confident in our team’s ability to continue finding creative solutions to minimize the impact on our highest-demand and capacity constrained vehicles. Although the situation remains complex and very fluid, GM continues to prioritize full-size truck production which remains in high demand.”

Last week, GM announced the shutdown of the Michigan assembly plant, which began on August 23, would extend to September 20, but it’s clear that the company has not yet found a solution to the causes of delay. In the meantime, GM said it would continue to work with its battery supplier, LG Chem, to update its manufacturing processes and production schedules.

In July, the company began recalls for its Chevy Bolts due to fire risks, and the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration has recommended customers park their vehicles away from homes and other vehicles as a precaution.

Last week, GM said production on its full-size trucks and full-size SUVs would begin by this week, but chip shortages have also caused GM to announce slowing production at five other assembly plants in North America. Some, like the Fort Wayne Assembly and Silao Assembly plants, which produce the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 models, have already ramped up to full capacity as of September 13 after being briefly impacted by the global semiconductor shortage, GM said.

The Lansing Delta Township Assembly plant in Michigan, which builds the Chevrolet Traverse and the Buick Enclave, will add an additional week of downtime the week of September 27 and is expected to resume production the week of October 4. The plant has been shut down since July 19. Downtime for the Chevrolet Camaro and Cadillac Black Wing have also been extended through the week of the 27th, as well as previously announced downtime for Cadillac CT4 and CT5 production. Production on the Camaro has been down since September 13, and on the CT4 and CT5 since May 10.

Production of the Equinox, Blazer and GMC Terrain have been pushed out through the week of October 11, as well, which are produced at the CAMI Assembly plant in Canada and San Luis Potosi Assembly and Ramos Assembly in Mexico. Production of the Blazer and Equinox have been down since August 23 and August 16, respectively.

Cadillac XT4 production, which has been down since February 8, will resume at Fairfax Assembly in Kansas next week. GM said production of the Chevrolet Malibu, which is also at Fairfax and has been down since February 8, will remain down through the week of October 25.

#automotive, #chevy-bolt, #evs, #general-motors, #transportation

GM invests in radar software startup Oculii as demand for automated driving features rise

Oculii, a software startup that aims to improve the spatial resolution of radar sensors by up to 100-fold, has scored a new investment from General Motors. The new funding, which the two companies say is in the millions, comes just months after Oculii closed a $55 million Series B.

Oculii and GM have already been working together “for some time now,” CEO Steven Hong told TechCrunch in a recent interview. While he declined to specify exactly how GM plans to use Oculii’s software, it could be used to bolster the capabilities of the automaker’s hands-free advanced driver assistance system known as Super Cruise. Hong added that the company is also working with a few other OEMs, including one on the cap table.

“When a company like GM says, this is great technology and this is something that we potentially want to use down the line, it makes the entire supply chain take notice and effectively work more closely with you to adopt the solution, the technology, into what they’re selling to the OEMs,” he said.

The startup has no intention of building hardware. Instead, Oculii wants to license software to radar companies. The startup claims it can take low-cost, commercially available radar sensors – sensors that weren’t designed for autonomous driving, but rather for limited scenarios like emergency breaking or parking assist – and use its AI software to enable more autonomous maneuvering, Hong said.

“We really believe that the way to deliver something that’s scalable is through software, because software fundamentally improves with data,” he said. “Software fundamentally improves with better hardware in each generation that’s released. Software fundamentally over time gets cheaper and cheaper and cheaper, much faster than hardware, for example.”

The news is certainly bullish for radar, a sensor that is generally used for assistive capabilities because of its imaging limitations. But if Oculii can actually improve the performance of radar, which tend to be much cheaper than lidar, it could mean massive cost savings for automakers.

Tesla, the largest electric vehicle maker by sales volume in the world, recently nixed radar sensors from its advanced driver assistance system, in favor of a “pure vision” approach that uses cameras and a supercomputer-powered neural network. Hong said that the radar Tesla eliminated was very low resolution, and “wasn’t really adding anything to their existing pipeline.”

But he doesn’t think the company would always necessarily count out radar, should the technology improve. “Fundamentally, each of these sensors improves [the] safety case and gets you closer and closer to 99.99999% reliability. At the end of the day, that’s the most important thing, is getting as many nines of reliability as you can.”

#automotive, #autonomous-vehicles, #general-motors, #hardware, #lidar, #oculii, #radar, #recent-funding, #self-driving-cars, #startups, #transportation

Building a More Sustainable Car, From Headlamp to Tailpipe

Vehicle makers shy away from traditional materials that are hard to recycle, like leather and plastics, and look to repurpose alternatives that still convey quality.

#ab-volvo, #audi-division-of-volkswagen-ag, #automobiles, #bayerische-motorenwerke-ag, #electric-and-hybrid-vehicles, #factories-and-manufacturing, #fiat-chrysler-automobiles-nv, #ford-motor-co, #fuel-efficiency, #fuel-emissions-transportation, #general-motors, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #hummer-division-of-general-motors-corp, #luxury-goods-and-services, #polestar-performance-ab, #recycling-of-waste-materials

Cruise is buying solar energy from California farmers to power its electric, self-driving fleet

Cruise, the self-driving car company under General Motors, has launched a new initiative called Farm to Fleet that will allow the company to source solar power from farms in California’s Central Valley. The San Francisco Chronicle was the first to report the news that Cruise is directly purchasing renewable energy credits from Sundale Vineyards and Moonlight Companies to help power its fleet of all-electric autonomous vehicles in San Francisco.

Cruise recently secured a permit to shuttle passengers in its test vehicles in San Francisco without a human safety operator behind the wheel. The company is also ramping up its march to commercialization with a recent $5 billion line of credit from GM Financial to pay for hundreds of electric and autonomous Origin vehicles. While this partnership with California farmers is undoubtedly a boon to the state’s work in progressing renewable energies while also providing jobs and financial opportunities to local businesses, Cruise isn’t running a charity here.

The California Independent System Operator has been soliciting power producers across western United States to sell more megawatts to the state this summer in anticipation of heat waves that will boost electricity demand and potentially cause blackouts. Power supplies are lower than expected already due to droughts, outages and delays in bringing new energy generation sources to the grid, causing reduced hydroelectric generation. To ensure California’s grid can handle the massive increase in fleet size Cruise is planning, it seems that the company has no choice but to find creative ways to bolster the grid. Cruise, however, is holding firm that it’s got loftier goals than securing the energy from whatever sources available.

“This is entirely about us doing the right thing for our cities and communities and fundamentally transforming transportation for the better,” Ray Wert, a Cruise spokesperson, told TechCrunch.

With droughts continuing to plague California farmers, converting farmland to solar farms is a potential way to help the state meet its climate change targets, according to a report from environmental nonprofit Nature Conservancy. Which is why Cruise saw the logic in approaching Central Valley farmers now.

“Farm to Fleet is a vehicle to rapidly reduce urban transportation emissions while generating new revenue for California’s farmers leading in renewable energy,” said Rob Grant, Cruise’s vice president of social affairs and global impact, in a blog post.

Cruise is paying negotiated contract rates with the farms through its clean energy partner, BTR Energy. The company isn’t disclosing costs, but says it’s paying no more or less than what it would pay for using other forms of renewable energy credits (RECs). RECs are produced when a renewable energy source generates one megawatt-hour of electricity and passes it on to the grid. According to Cruise, Sundale has installed 2 megawatts of solar capacity to power their 200,000 square footage of cold storage, and Moonlight has installed a combined 3.9 MW of solar arrays and two battery storage system for its sorting and storage facilities. So when Cruise buys credits from these farms, it’s able to say that a specific amount of its electricity use came from a renewable source. RECs are unique and tracked, so it’s clear where they came from, what kind of energy they used and where they went. Cruise did not share how many RECs it plans to purchase from the farms, but says it will be enough to power its San Francisco fleet.

“While the solar power still flows through the same grid, Cruise purchases and then ultimately ‘retires’ the renewable energy credits generated by the solar panels at the farms,” said Wert. “Through data that we submit to the California Air Resources Board quarterly, we retire a number of RECs equivalent to the amount of electricity we used to charge our vehicles.”

Wert says using fully renewable power is actually profitable for Cruise in California due to the Low Carbon Fuel Standard, which is designed to decrease the carbon intensity of transportation fuels in the state and provide more low-carbon alternatives. Cruise owns and operates all of its own EV charging ports, so it’s able to generate credits based on the carbon intensity score of the electricity and amount of energy delivered. Cruise can then sell its credits to other companies seeking to reduce their footprints and comply with regulations. 

Aside from practicalities, Cruise is aiming to set a standard for the industry and create demand for renewable energy, thus incentivizing more people and businesses to create it. 

“Transportation is responsible for over 40% of greenhouse gas emissions, which is why we announced our Clean Mile Challenge in February, where we challenged the rest of the AV industry to report how many miles they’re driving on renewable energy every year,” said Wert. “We’re hoping that others follow our lead.”

#automotive, #autonomous-driving, #cruise, #general-motors, #self-driving, #solar-energy, #tc, #transportation

How G.M.’s First Turbo Engines Crashed and Burned

Oldsmobile and Chevrolet pioneered the technology for mass-market cars, but the turbos flopped — and took decades to gain acceptance.

#automobiles, #chevrolet-division-of-general-motors-corp, #engines, #general-motors, #saab-automobile-ab

G.M. Is Expanding the Chevrolet Bolt Recall

The recall now covers the car’s entire output, beginning with the 2017 version. The latest move, to add three model years, raises costs by $1 billion.

#automobile-safety-features-and-defects, #automobiles, #barra-mary-t, #batteries, #chevrolet-division-of-general-motors-corp, #electric-and-hybrid-vehicles, #general-motors, #production, #recalls-and-bans-of-products

General Motors issues third recall for Chevrolet Bolt EVs, citing rare battery defects

General Motors is recalling even more Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles due to possible battery cell defects that could increase the risk of fire. This latest recall, announced by the automaker on Friday, marks the third time GM has issued the consumer notice for the Bolt.

The second recall, which was issued in July, covered 2017 to 2019 Bolt EVs. Now, GM is expanding that recall to include an additional 9,335 2019 model year Bolts, as well as 63,683 2020–2022 Bolt EV and EUV vehicles.

“In rare circumstances, the batteries supplied to GM for these vehicles may have two manufacturing defects – a torn anode tab and folded separator – present in the same battery cell, which increases the risk of fire,” the company said in a news release. It added that it was working with its cell supplier, South Korea’s LG, regarding the issue.

This recall is expected to cost GM an additional $1 billion – that’s on top of the $800 million the company has already estimated for the prior recalls. Costs associated with fixing defective Bolt batteries made up the lion’s share of GM’s $1.3 billion in warranty expenses last quarter, the automaker said in an earnings call earlier this month.

GM is recommending that included Bolt drivers to a 90 percent state of charge limitation and avoid depleting the battery below a 70 mile range. The automaker also suggests parking the vehicle outside right after charging and not leaving the vehicle charging indoors overnight – likely due to the risk of fire. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration released its own recommendation to Bolt drivers to park their vehicles away from their homes to reduce fire risk.

#automotive, #chevrolet, #chevy-bolt, #chevy-bolt-euv, #electric-vehicles, #general-motors, #transportation

General Motors and AT&T will offer 5G connectivity in certain vehicles from model year 2024

General Motors and AT&T will be rolling out 5G connectivity in select Chevy, Cadillac and GMC vehicles from model year 2024, in a boost that the two companies say will bring more reliable software updates, faster navigation and downloads, and better coverage on roadways.

Executives said in a media briefing that the rollout of the 5G architecture will also bring benefits for GM models that are 4G LTE-equipped, such as those from model year 2019 and newer. Once available, vehicle owners of select models “will easily migrate to the new network infrastructure once available,” the companies said in a news release.

“There’s going to be a performance boost and improvements as AT&T improves their infrastructure, so that the vehicles connected with 4G capabilities, model year 19 and beyond, they will also start to perceive an improvement in their performance,” GM’s VP of global connected services, Santiago Chamorro, said during a media briefing Wednesday.

5G technology has generated a lot of hype for its promises to boost speed and reduce latency across a range of industries, a next-gen tech that everyone thought would change the world far sooner than now. That hasn’t happened (yet), in part because network rollout was much slower than people anticipated. So this announcement can be taken as a clear signal that, at the very least, AT&T thinks its 5G network will be mature enough to handle “millions” of connected vehicles by 2024.

Tom DeMaria, GM’s executive director of global connected services, added that the performance boost will not require GM pushing a significant software update to vehicles, but that the vehicles will be “seamlessly migrated.”

Faster and more reliable connectivity is key to many automakers’ market plans, which nearly across the board involve complex in-car software features and wireless over-the-air updates to keep everything from the music system to (if it’s an electric vehicle) the battery operational. It will also be key for other technologies like advanced driver assistance systems, which are swiftly becoming another key way that automakers seek to distinguish themselves to drivers.

General Motors has been developing what it calls Super Cruise, a suite of SAE Level 2 features that can temporarily take over the vehicle providing certain conditions are met, and the driver stays alert at all times. Think of it as GM’s answer to Tesla’s Autopilot, another system that is by no means “self-driving.” This tech, plus things like infotainment, all operate under the umbrella of what GM calls its vehicle intelligence platform, the underlying hardware architecture.

“Network connectivity is an enabler that complements really well with what GM is doing in terms of its hardware and its software,” Chamorro added.

#5g, #advanced-driver-assistance-system, #att, #automotive, #general-motors, #in-car-computing, #super-cruise, #transportation

The Dream Cars of the Car Designers

Saturday mornings are for celebrating stylish sheet metal in the parking lot of a storied hobby shop in metro Detroit.

#antique-and-classic-cars, #cadillac-division-of-general-motors-corp, #chevrolet-division-of-general-motors-corp, #design, #detroit-mich, #ferrari-spa, #ford-motor-co, #general-motors

LG Energy Solution inks deal with Australian mining company for nickel and cobalt

South Korea’s LG Energy Solution has entered into a six-year agreement with an Australian mining company for cobalt and nickel, securing a stable supply of key minerals to make electric vehicle batteries.

LG Energy, a subsidiary of LG Chem, will purchase 71,000 dry metric tons of nickel and 7,000 dry metric tons of cobalt from Australian Mines Limited starting from the end of 2024. That’s enough raw material to make batteries for 1.3 million EVs with a driving range of over 310 miles per charge.

“Securing key raw materials and a responsible battery supply chain has become a critical element in gaining a greater control within the industry, as the demand for electric vehicles worldwide heightened in recent years,” LG Energy Solution CEO Jong-hyun Kim said in a statement.

The materials will be sourced from Australian Mines’ $1.5 billion Sconi Project based in Queensland, which is currently under development. The site will use a “dry stacking method” to store filtered tailings, an alternative and more eco-friendly way to manage waste from a mining site. Instead of dumping tailings into local water sources or burying them in underground quarries, dry stacking removes the water from the waste, leaving a sand-like substance that can be securely stored in management facilities.

“Although more costly compared to the conventional method due to construction and maintenance expenses, the dry stacking method is deemed an environmentally friendly way to extract raw materials,” LG Energy said in a statement.

The sole condition to the agreement is that Australian Mines secure financing for the construction of the project before the end of June next year. If secured, the agreement would account for all of the anticipated output of the site.

The two companies have the option to extend the agreement by another five years by mutual agreement.

LG Energy is a subsidiary of LG Chem, one of the world’s largest producers of batteries and battery materials. Last month, the company said it had earmarked ₩6 trillion ($5.2 billion) in its battery businesses, specifically the production of anode materials, separation membranes and cathode binders. Earlier this summer, it also entered into an agreement with Queensland Pacific Metals valued at ₩12 billion ($10.3 million), for 7,000 tons of nickel and 700 tons of cobalt per year over a 10-year period.

LG Chem counts Volkswagen, General Motors and Tesla amongst its customers. It said it anticipates the global battery market only expanding in the coming years, from ₩39 trillion ($34 billion) in 2021 to ₩100 trillion ($87 billion) by 2026.

It isn’t the only major player vying to secure sources of raw materials. In a move to obtain its own battery source, Tesla inked a deal with commodity production giant BHP in July for nickel from its mines in Western Australian.

OEMs are also partnering with battery makers to develop batteries — LG Chem included, as is the case with the joint venture between the conglomerate and General Motors, Ultium Cells.

#automotive, #cobalt, #electric-vehicle-batteries, #electric-vehicles, #general-motors, #hyundai-motor-company, #lg-chem, #lg-energy-solution, #nickel, #raw-materials, #supply-chains, #tesla, #transportation

How Biden’s E.V. Plan Could Help Tesla and Squeeze Toyota

A push to increase sales of electric vehicles favors companies that already have all-electric cars on the market and could penalize those that don’t.

#automobiles, #batteries, #bayerische-motorenwerke-ag, #biden-joseph-r-jr, #china, #electric-and-hybrid-vehicles, #europe, #factories-and-manufacturing, #ford-motor-co, #fuel-efficiency, #fuel-emissions-transportation, #general-motors, #global-warming, #lucid-motors-inc, #stellantis-nv, #tesla-motors-inc, #toyota-motor-corp, #united-states, #united-states-politics-and-government, #volkswagen-ag

Drunk-driving provision could fuel demand for driver detection technology

Companies developing driver detection technology could get a boost from a provision tucked inside the 2,702-page $1 trillion infrastructure bill that would require automakers to build into new cars technology that can tell if drivers have had a few cold ones.

The provision in the bill, which is actually a piece of bipartisan legislation called the Reduce Impaired Driving for Everyone Act that was introduced in April 2021, would direct the U.S. Department of Transportation to establish a technology safety standard for automakers within three years. Automakers would then have another two years to comply and implement tech that detects and prevents drunk driving. Reuters was the first to notice the language

While the provision doesn’t dictate what type of tech has to be in these vehicles, industry experts believe that companies developing camera-based driver monitoring systems (DMS) stand to benefit the most. DMS systems are already mature in the auto industry, representing a technological byproduct of autonomous driving developments. While the auto industry explores self-driving cars as a way to drastically reduce road deaths in the future, advocates and regulators say there’s room to use some of this tech to solve problems that exist now, like drunk or distracted driving. 

“What’s happening in the U.S. Senate this week potentially opens the door to a camera-based real-time solution, which will be the first time that the U.S. automakers will have the ability and the requirement to look at real-time physiological changes in your body that occur when you are inebriated,” Dr. Mike Lenné, chief science and innovation officer at Seeing Machines told TechCrunch. “There are distinct reliable changes to the way you scan the environment, to the way your eyes respond to stimuli, which is why the police use that ‘follow the finger’ test.”

The system would have to monitor the performance of a driver to detect impairment and prevent or limit vehicle operation if impairment is detected; detect whether BAC (blood alcohol concentration) is equal to or greater than the legal limit, potentially preventing operation of the vehicle at all; or a combination of both systems. 

Cameras aren’t the only solution that has been trotted out in recent years.

The Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) program, a technology that’s been developed in partnership between the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), has advocated using a breath or touch-based approach to determine BAC levels. The touch-based approach involves measuring BAC through the skin’s surface by shining an infrared light through the driver’s fingertip. According to DADSS, the current timeline for bringing the breath-based approach to vehicles is by 2024, and the touch-based approach by 2025. 

Lenné argues that a camera-based approach would be far more successful than a breath or touch-based approach because BAC levels can rise within minutes. Someone could theoretically down a bunch of shots immediately before getting behind the wheel and it wouldn’t show up on a reading for several minutes. Or they could get wasted while driving. And BAC detection doesn’t help at all when it comes to drug-impaired driving. 

Europe versus U.S.

Moves are already being made in Europe to encourage automakers to include drunk driving detection technology, specifically through camera-based DMS approaches, whereas most of the discussion on this type of tech in the U.S. has been, until recently, focused on DMS for assisted driving and Level 2 autonomous driving and above. (According to the Society of Automotive Engineers, Level 2 autonomy means the vehicle has combined functions like steering and acceleration but requires the driver to remain engaged.)

The U.S. provision could propel an industry that has already seen growth in recent years as automakers like GM and Ford implement hands-free advanced driver assistance systems.

“From an integration viewpoint, it’s actually not a step change at all from what the OEMs are doing right now for distracted driving and drowsy driving with camera-based DMS. It’s just another feature to offer, another algorithm on the chip, if you like,” Lenné said. 

Near-term tech

“Billions of dollars have gone into developing the technology to make AVs a reality but they are really far off,” Stephanie Manning, chief government affairs officer at Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), told TechCrunch. “In the process, automakers have developed a lot of technology that can help us right now in terms of saving lives. If this passes, it’s going to be the biggest safety rulemaking that NHTSA has ever done in terms of lives saved, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. But the more we wait, the more we delay, the more people die.”

The technology is not at all far from market, said Lenné, and he would know. Seeing Machines provides the DMS that is used in Super Cruise, GM’s hands-free advanced driver assistance system. Super Cruise, once relegated to just one Cadillac model, has expanded in capability and GM’s portfolio and is now in the Cadillac CT6, CT4, CT5, Escalade and Chevrolet Bolt. Seeing Machine’s tech is also used in the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class and EQS sedans.

“Once it’s regulated, we can expect to see more entrants to the market because what this does is it creates a top-down demand,” said Lenné. “It takes it out of the consumers’ hands and tells vehicles they must have these safety features, so the market size will increase dramatically, and so will the market opportunity.”

The global DMS market is estimated to surpass $2.1 billion by 2026, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 9.8% from this year, according to IndustryARC. Top-down demand due to regulations like the infrastructure bill will certainly increase demand, but it won’t make the problem easier to solve.

“We’re trying to assess what’s going on in someone’s head, and that’s really different from having a forward-facing radar that’s trying to look at what’s 30 meters in front of you,” he said. “You’re trying to interpret whether or not this person is safe to drive. So it’s a really difficult technical problem to solve. Our company is 21 years old. Smart Eye has been around for over 10 years. Whilst the market size has increased dramatically, it’s a hard problem to solve as a new entrant.”

Newcomers will face competition from established and large Tier 1 suppliers like Seeing Machines and Smart Eye, a Swedish computer vision company that people familiar with the industry say works with Ford (Ford did not confirm or deny this). IndustryARC also names major players as Faurecia, Aptiv PLC, Bosch, Denso, Continental AG and others. But new players are finding their way into the scene, like Israel-based Cipia, formerly Eyesight Technology, and Sweden-based Tobii Tech.

Room for growth in the market

More entrants to market means more advancements to the technology. Smart Eye’s recent acquisition of emotion-detection startup Affectiva for $73.5 million hints at the potential future applications of DMS in passenger vehicles. Today it might be distracted, drowsy or drunk driving, but in a few years DMS could detect other types of drug impairment, cognitive impairments or even road rage.

Tobii, an eye-tracker technology company, just announced its entrance into the DMS market, a space it’s been exploring for the past few years as it has watched the legislative changes happening first in Europe and now in the U.S.

While a new entrant to the automotive space, Tobii has been in the eye tracking space since 2001, working in industries like marketing, scientific research, virtual reality, gaming and more. Anand Srivatsa, Tobii’s division CEO, told TechCrunch he thinks one of the biggest challenges will be scaling across different populations, given the different eye shapes of different ethnicities, which he says puts Tobii at an advantage, even with its limited automotive experience.

“Because of this long history, we have what it takes to deliver a full solution from a component level all the way to end software because we’ve done it in other parts of our business,” Srivatsa told TechCrunch. “Some of our automotive partners see that as a unique capability from Tobii where we can talk about the compute that is needed for eye tracking because we build our own asix, we’ve built our own sensor. We have end user software in some aspects of our business, so we understand the implications and the constraints of each of these parts of the stack, and we can work with them to create a more disruptive solution. And that’s something that I think is going to be quite important in this space. How do you reduce the total cost of the solution to allow it to scale efficiently across all cars?”

Srivatsa also said there’s room to extend into other spaces the biometrics or physiological signals that eye tracking yields, reconfiguring information based on outside road conditions or what else is going on in the car in a way that optimizes the tech to ensure drivers are spending the bulk of their time looking at the road.

“What I am hoping and dreaming for is technologies like forward collision warning, or blind spot warning or even the lane swerving warnings help me out when I need it most by understanding if I’m becoming complacent or tired, perhaps distracted, and then adjust how the systems perform, the warning timing and things like that, based on what I need in the moment,” Kelly Funkhouser, program manager of vehicle interface testing and head of connected and automated vehicles at Consumer Reports, told TechCrunch. “Counter to that is I would like it to not bother me and nag and annoy me when I am fully paying attention. I’m like ‘Yeah I know exactly what I’m doing, I am purposely driving over this line so that I don’t hit the mom and kids.’ ”

Lenné said there’s a potential for driver monitoring systems that capture what is really going on inside of a car to become more personalized in order to provide a better driving experience. 

“I think in all of this, writing a better driving experience is absolutely pivotal,” said Lenné. “If it doesn’t do that, it risks not being accepted by the consumers.”

Advancing existing ADAS tech

Automakers have been a part of the conversation regarding drunk driving technology for years. Back in 2007, Nissan revealed a drunk driving concept car that would use alcohol odor sensors, facial monitoring and vehicle operational behavior to detect driver impairment.

In the same year, Toyota announced a similar system that it said would be in cars by 2009. More recently, Volvo announced in 2019 that it would install cameras and sensors in cars to monitor drivers for signs of being drunk or distracted and then signal the vehicle to intervene, but that tech is designed for Volvo’s SPA2 architecture for hands-free driving, which hasn’t been released yet. The bottom line is without legislation mandating drunk driving prevention and detection, automakers haven’t really moved forward on implementing the tech, despite much of the building blocks being in place already. 

Manning thinks that’s because automakers want to be able to upcharge for safety features. 

“Automakers want to test their supercomputers on the open road, but they don’t want to put the money and time and energy into solving drunk driving, because they don’t feel it’s their responsibility, and they don’t want this rule-making,” she said. “We fully expect that they’re going to fight us tooth and nail throughout the rule-making process.”

Representatives from GM and Ford could not be reached for comment, but John Bozzella, president and CEO of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, which worked with NHTSA on the DADSS program, told TechCrunch that the auto industry is committed to supporting public and private efforts to address this threat to road safety.  

“We appreciate the efforts of congressional leaders and other stakeholders to advance a legislative approach that provides NHTSA the ability to review all potential technologies as options for federal regulation and, consistent with the Motor Vehicle Safety Act, to make a well-informed decision as to whether any specific technologies meet the standard for consumer vehicles,” he said.

#automotive, #ford, #general-motors, #government, #nhtsa, #nissan, #policy, #toyota, #transportation, #volvo

Automakers urge greater government investment to meet Biden’s EV sales target

President Joe Biden is expected to set an ambitious new target for half of all new auto sales in the U.S. to be low- or zero-emission by 2030, a plan that has received tentative support from the Big Three automakers pending what they say will require hefty government support.

General Motors, Ford and Stellantis (formerly Fiat Chrysler) issued a joint statement Thursday that they had “shared aspiration[s]” to achieve a 40% to 50% share of electric in new vehicle sales by the end of the decade, with the caveat that such a target “can be achieved only with the timely deployment of the full suite of electrification policies committed to by the Administration in the Build Back Better Plan.”

Some of the investments they list include consumer incentives, a national EV charging network “of sufficient density,” funding for R&D and manufacturing and supply chain incentives.

Biden’s target, which will come in the form of an executive order on Thursday, will be nonbinding and entirely voluntary. The target includes vehicles powered by batteries, hydrogen fuel cells or plug-in hybrids.

Executives from the three OEMs, as well as representatives from the United Automobile Workers union, are expected to attend an event on the new target at the White House Thursday. Tesla, it seems, was not invited, according to a tweet from CEO Elon Musk.

Biden will also be calling for new fuel economy standards for passenger and medium- and heavy-duty vehicles through model year 2026, which were rolled back under President Trump’s tenure, according to a White House factsheet released Thursday. The new standards, which will be crafted under the jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency, should come as no surprise to automakers: They were included in Biden’s so-called “Day One Agenda” and mark a cornerstone of his strategy to combat climate change.

The new standards will likely borrow from those passed by California last year, which were finalized in concert with a coalition of five automakers: BMW AG, Ford, Honda Motor Co., Volkswagen AG, and Volvo AB. Those automakers, in a separate statement Thursday, said they supported the White House’s plan to reduce emissions. However, like the Big Three, they said that “bold action” from the federal government will be needed to achieve emission reductions targets.

The road to 2030

While Biden’s nonbinding order is more of a symbolic one, the targets are likely achievable, Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds’ executive director of insights said in a statement. She added that automotive industry leaders “have seen the writing on the wall for some time now” regarding electrification, regardless of who has been in the White House.

Thanks to the relatively long product development lead time, many of the major automakers have already announced multibillion-dollar investments in EVs and AVs at least through the middle of the decade. That includes a $35 billion investment through 2025 from GM and $30 billion through the same year from Ford — not to mention similar announcements from Stellantis and many billions earmarked for battery R&D from Volkswagen, and even Volvo Cars’ shift to all-electric by 2030.

These massive numbers follow the automakers’ own sales targets, which are for the most part in line with Biden’s goal.

Fuel economy rules, however, have historically garnered slightly more mixed reactions from automakers. GM, Fiat Chrysler (now Stellantis) and Toyota had previously supported a Trump-era lawsuit that sought to strip California’s authority to set its own emissions standards — but each company eventually made an about-face, leaving the road open for Biden to introduce his own standards this year.

In a very real sense, Biden’s announcement is as much about geopolitics as it is about climate change. He, too, has seen the writing on the wall regarding EVs. His administration notes in the factsheet that “China is increasingly cornering the global supply chain” for EVs and EV battery materials. “By setting clear targets for electric vehicle sale trajectories, these countries are becoming magnets for private investment into their manufacturing sectors — from parts and materials to final assembly.”

While three times as many EVs were registered in the U.S. in 2020 versus 2016, America still lags behind both Europe and China in terms of EV market share, according to the International Energy Agency.

The news has garnered a slew of mixed reactions, with some environmental groups urging more decisive action on the part of the administration. Carol Lee Rawn, senior director of transportation at Ceres, said in a statement that future standards should target a 60% reduction in emissions and a “clear trajectory” to 100% vehicle sales by 2035.

Although the UAW will be joining Biden at the White House on Thursday, President Ray Curry said in a statement that the group is “not focused on hard deadlines or percentages, but on preserving the wages and benefits that have been the heart and soul of the American middle class.”

#automotive, #bmw, #donald-trump, #electric-vehicles, #fiat-chrysler, #ford, #general-motors, #joe-biden, #policy, #stellantis, #transportation, #volkswagen, #volvo-cars

GM is adding to two new zero-emission commercial vehicles to its lineup

General Motors said Wednesday it is adding to two new zero-emissions vehicles to its commercial portfolio as it looks to expand its first-to-last-mile business arm, BrightDrop.

The first vehicle will be a battery electric cargo van under the Chevrolet brand that will likely be similar to the popular Chevy Express van. The second will be a medium-duty truck that CEO Mary Barra said “will put both the Ultium and Hydrotec hydrogen fuel cell technology to work.”

Much has been made of GM’s commitment to invest in electric passenger vehicles, but the company has also been busy targeting commercial customers with zero-emitting technologies. GM’s go-to technologies are battery electric and hydrogen fuel cells for heavy-duty and long-haul purposes.

GM in January said it would supply Hydrotec Hydrogen Fuel Cell Power Cubes to trucking manufacturer Navistar, with the first hydrogen trucks anticipated to go on sale in 2024. The automaker also penned a deal with Wabtec to develop hydrogen fuel cells and batteries for locomotives.

GM launched BrightDrop in January in a bid to to offer commercial customers, starting with a contract with FedEx, an ecosystem of electric and connected products.

BrightDrop started with two main products, an electric van called the EV600 with an estimate range of 250 miles and a pod-like electric pallet dubbed EP1. BrightDrop executives previously hinted that the business unit was working on other products, including a medium-distance vehicle that transports multiple electric pallets known as EP1 and rapid load delivery vehicle concept.

“Between these new trucks, BrightDrop, EV pickups coming from Chevrolet and GMC, and our work with Wabtec on locomotives, and Navistar on semi-trucks, we will have electric solutions for almost any towing or hauling job you can imagine,” Barra said.

#automotive, #electric-vehicles, #general-motors, #mary-barra, #tc, #transportation, #ultium-cells

GM’s earnings dragged down by Chevy Bolt recall

The twice-issued recall for 2017 to 2019 Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles cost General Motors $800 million, the company said in its second quarter earnings statement Wednesday. Costs associated with fixing defective Bolt batteries make up the lion’s share of GM’s $1.3 billion in warranty expenses last quarter.

CEO Mary Barra specified on an investor call that the recall does not impact the Ultium platform, GM’s battery cell technology it is developing in a joint venture with South Korea’s LG Energy Solutions. “[Ultium] is a different battery system and our joint venture plants that manufactures Ultium cells will follow rigorous quality processes,” she said.

GM issued the second recall for the Bolt in July, telling customers it planned to replace defective battery modules to address fire risk. Until customers are notified that a replacement battery is ready for them, GM advised to charge their vehicle after each use and to not let the battery level drop below around 70 miles of range.

The numbers were posted part of the automotive giant’s second quarter earnings release. It announced revenues of $34.2 billion, up $1.7 billion from the first quarter 2021, and $17.4 billion up from its year-ago quarterly result. GM also reported net income of $2.84 billion in the second quarter, up from a year-ago loss of $758 million, largely driven by the pandemic and associated economic fallout. GM’s adjusted income of $4.1 billion, a figure that is inclusive of recall costs.

Income was boosted by used car prices, truck and SUV sales, and strong profits at GM Financial. GM’s lending arm posted net sales of $3.4 billion and adjusted income of $1.58 billion for the quarter.

“Used vehicle prices drove continued record results at GM Financial,” GM CFO Paul Jacobson confirmed on the call. 

The automaker is bullish the remaining year. GM raised its adjusted full-year guidance to between $11.5 billion and $13.5 billion, or $5.40 to $6.40 a share. That’s up from their previous guidance of $10 billion to $11 billion, or $4.50 to $5.25 a share.

#automotive, #chevrolet-bolt, #chevy-bolt, #electric-vehicle-batteries, #general-motors, #mary-barra, #recall, #transportation

Apollo 15 Anniversary: 50 Years Ago, NASA Put a Car on the Moon

The lunar rovers of Apollo 15, 16 and 17 parked American automotive culture on the lunar surface, and expanded the scientific range of the missions’ astronaut explorers.

#apollo-project, #automobiles, #boeing-company, #engineering-and-engineers, #general-motors, #geology, #moon, #national-aeronautics-and-space-administration, #space-and-astronomy

Automakers have battery anxiety, so they’re taking control of the supply

Battery joint ventures have become the hot must-have deal for automakers that have set ambitious targets to deliver millions of electric vehicles in the next few years.

It’s no longer just about securing a supply of cells. The string of partnerships and joint ventures show that automakers are taking a more active role in the development and even production of battery cells, .

Automakers are taking a more active role in the development and even production of battery cells.

And the deals don’t appear to be slowing down. Just this week, Mercedes-Benz announced its $47 billion plan to become an electric-only automaker by 2030. Securing its battery supply chain by expanding existing partnerships or locking in new ones to jointly develop and produce battery cells and modules is a critical piece of its plan.

Mercedes, like other automakers, is also focused on developing and deploying advanced battery technology. In addition to setting up eight new battery plants to supply its future EVs, the German automaker said it was partnering with Sila Nano, the Silicon Valley battery chemistry startup that it has previously invested in, to increase energy density, which should in turn improve range and allow for shorter charging times.

“This follows a trend that we’ve seen of automakers realizing how critical the battery is and taking more control of the production of the cells in order to ensure their own supply,” Sila Nano CEO Gene Berdichevsky said in a recent interview. “Like if you’re VW, and you say, ‘We’re going to go 50% electric by whatever year,’ but then the batteries don’t show up, you’re bankrupt, you’re dead. Their scale is so big that even if their cell partners have promised them to deliver, automakers are scared that they won’t.”

Tesla, BMW and Volkswagen were early adopters of the battery joint-venture strategy. In 2014,Tesla and Panasonic signed an agreement to build a large battery manufacturing plant, or a gigafactory as everyone is now calling it, in the U.S. and have worked together since. BMW began working with Solid Power in 2017 to create solid-state batteries for high-performance EVs that could potentially lower costs by requiring less safety features than lithium-ion batteries.

In addition to its partnership with Northvolt, VW is also in talks with suppliers to secure more direct access to supplies like semiconductors and lithium so it can keep its existing plants running at full speed.

Now the rest of the industry is moving to work with battery companies, to share knowledge and resources and essentially become the manufacturer.

#automotive, #basf, #bmw, #ec-mobility-hardware, #electric-vehicle, #ford, #general-motors, #greentech, #hyundai, #lg-chem, #lithium-ion-battery, #panasonic, #porsche, #renault, #sk-innovation, #solidenergy-systems, #tc, #tesla, #toyota, #transportation, #volkswagen

NHTSA urges some Chevy Bolt owners to park their car away from home, citing fire risk

Chevrolet Bolts are back in the news – this time for another consumer alert issued by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, less than a year after the agency issued a recall for a similar issue.

NHTSA is recommending owners of Model Year 2017-2019 park their Bolts away from homes due to the risk of fire. Those are the same vehicles that were recalled in November 2020, due to the possibility of fire from the battery pack underneath the backseat’s cushion. The recall affected 50,932 2017-2019 Chevy Bolt vehicles.

But this recall seems to have been triggered by two recent fire incidents in vehicles that were supposedly remedied as part of that previous safety recall, General Motors said on its website.

“Out of an abundance of caution, we are asking owners of 2017-2019 Chevrolet Bolt EVs who were part of the recall population to park their vehicles outdoors immediately after charging and not leave their vehicles charging overnight while we investigate these incidents.”

GM says it has potentially identified a remedy to the battery anomalies, which customers can access by visiting a participating Bolt dealer. Customers of 2019 Bolts were able to access this remedy from April 29, and owners of 2017 and 2018 Bolts were eligible from May 26. The diagnostic software GM used to identify the anomalies will be standard in 2022 Bolts, and other future GM vehicles, the automaker said.

#automotive, #chevrolet, #chevrolet-bolt, #general-motors, #nhtsa, #recall, #transportation

Behind the Lordstown Debacle, the Hand of a Wall Street Dealmaker

A longtime real estate investor and former Goldman Sachs executive decided to take an electric truck company public. Chaos ensued.

#automobiles, #banking-and-financial-institutions, #blackrock-inc, #cleveland-ohio, #detroit-mich, #diamondpeak-holdings, #electric-and-hybrid-vehicles, #general-motors, #goldman-sachs-group-inc, #initial-public-offerings, #lordstown-ohio, #lordstown-motors-corp, #mckinseyco, #mergers-acquisitions-and-divestitures, #ohio, #slovenia, #special-purpose-acquisition-companies-spac, #stocks-and-bonds, #suits-and-litigation-civil, #workhorse-group-inc

GM is investing in a California lithium extraction project

General Motors is investing in domestically sourced lithium. The company said Friday it became the first investor in an Australian company’s project to extract the mineral, a critical component of electric vehicle batteries, from the Salton Sea Geothermal Field near Los Angeles. The automaker will have first rights on lithium produced by Controlled Thermal Resources’ “Hell’s Kitchen” lithium extraction project.

The Hell’s Kitchen project is expected to begin producing lithium in 2024. That output would be used in GM’s Ultium battery cells, which are being manufactured as part of a joint venture with LG Energy Solution, after undergoing validation and testing. While Tim Grewe, GM’s general director of electrification strategy and cell engineering, declined to provide specifics on how much lithium GM will likely receive, he said the company expects “it’ll be a significant amount of [GM’s] North American lithium.”

GM and other automakers will need a lot of lithium if they want to meet their electrification targets. For GM, that includes transitioning away from internal combustion engines entirely by 2035. But that wide-scale transition will also likely mean greater competition – not only for customers’ dollars, but for the source minerals that compose essential parts like batteries.

In general, lithium is produced either via hard rock mining or by extracting the mineral from brine deposits. Both methods have been criticized for their impacts on the environment. What makes CTR’s project stand out is that it will use renewable geothermal energy – produced from the Salton Sea Geothermal Field, a huge area in the Imperial Valley that’s already home to eleven geothermal power stations – to process the lithium.

In addition to being powered by renewable energy, CTR says the project uses a closed-loop direct extraction process that returns spent brine to its underground source and leaves no production tailings, a kind of waste reside from mining.

Most of the world’s lithium is sourced from a small number of countries, predominately Chile, Australia, China and Argentina. There only one lithium production site in the United States, a brine operation in Nevada owned by chemical manufacturing giant Albemarle. But there’s been an increased focus on boosting domestic production in the mineral in recent years, driven largely by two trends: the anticipated demand for the mineral, which is expected to rapidly increase due in part to the transition to battery electric vehicles; and a bipartisan focus on keeping the US competitive in emerging technologies.

According to the California Energy Commission, as much as one third of the world’s current demand for lithium could be found in the state’s lithium deposits. The CTR project is one of many aimed at extracting lithium from the Salton Sea’s vast brine fields.

#automotive, #general-motors, #geothermal-energy, #lithium, #tc, #transportation, #ultium

General Motors looks to California for its next lithium supply

An accidental manmade lake in the middle of a desert looks terrible. Just terrible.

Enlarge / In an aerial view from a drone, the bottom of the Salton Sea becomes exposed as its waters recede on February 13, 2021, near Calipatria, California. (credit: David McNew / Getty Images)

The world’s automakers are going to need a jaw-dropping amount of lithium as they transition to building electric vehicles en masse. Lithium isn’t exactly rare, but analysts say that the mining industry isn’t really prepared for the coming level of demand as companies like Tesla seek to lock up tens of thousands of tons of lithium salts a year from places like Australia and China.

On Friday, General Motors announced that some of its lithium supply may come from much closer to home. GM will invest in and collaborate with Controlled Thermal Resources in order to exploit lithium salts from the Salton Sea in California, naming the project “Hell’s Kitchen.”

The company is about to unleash an array of new battery EVs built using a common battery platform. Known as Ultium batteries, the cells will be built in Ohio at a $2.3 billion joint-venture factory with LG Chem. GM has previously stated that it wants to domestically source as many of the raw materials as possible for its new EVs.

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#cars, #controlled-thermal-resources, #general-motors, #geothermal-energy, #lithium, #lithium-batteries

GM’s newest startup aims squarely at the commercial EV market

Ford and GM’s century-old battle for market share is no longer restricted to gas- and diesel-powered passenger car, truck and SUV sales. The hottest market in the next decade is commercial and electric.

In this new race, the two companies are taking different strategies as they square off against each other — along with a growing list of EV startups — to win over as many delivery and fleet-vehicle customers as possible.

GM’s weapon is BrightDrop, a new startup incubated and launched at CES 2021 by Chairman and CEO Mary Barra. The venture boasts an ecosystem of EV hardware and logistical software products aimed squarely at fleet and delivery companies. GM’s interest in the space is far from merely exploratory; it anticipates that the market for delivery, including food and parcels in the United States, will be more than $850 billion by 2025.

For fleet managers, it comes down to the numbers on a spreadsheet, and thanks to incentives and lower maintenance costs associated with EVs, vans that run on electrons instead of dead dinosaurs make financial sense.

“Folks on the commercial side don’t really care about the technology — they care about the economics,” Brett Smith, director of technology at research firm CAR, told TechCrunch.

Electric vehicles might be more ecologically sound than traditional gas- or diesel-powered vehicles, but for fleet managers, it comes down to the numbers on a spreadsheet, and thanks to incentives and lower maintenance costs associated with EVs, vans that run on electrons instead of dead dinosaurs make financial sense.

#automotive, #brightdrop, #ec-mobility-hardware, #ec-news-analysis, #electric-vehicles, #fedex, #ford, #general-motors, #gm, #transportation

Crashes involving Tesla Autopilot and other driver-assistance systems get new scrutiny.

Federal safety regulators told automakers to provide more information about accidents involving cars and trucks with automation technology.

#automobile-safety-features-and-defects, #driverless-and-semiautonomous-vehicles, #electric-and-hybrid-vehicles, #general-motors, #musk-elon, #national-highway-traffic-safety-administration, #regulation-and-deregulation-of-industry, #tesla-motors-inc, #traffic-accidents-and-safety

Connected vehicle data startup Wejo partners with Microsoft, Palantir, Sompo

Connected vehicle data startup Wejo has announced partnerships with Microsoft, Palantir and Sompo Holdings to improve its ability to collect, store and analyze data from millions of connected vehicles around the world. 

This follows the GM-backed startup’s announcement that it would be going public by merging with a special purpose acquisition company, Virtuoso Acquisition Corp., which is expected to close later this year. A $25 million commitment from Microsoft and Sompo, combined with already-committed investors GM and Palantir, bring Wejo’s total PIPE financing to $125 million. 

Palantir has been a previous strategic investor in Wejo. In 2019, the software developer launched a Japanese joint venture with insurance provider Sompo. Now this venture’s partnership with Wejo will give the startup the chance to collect connected vehicle data in Japan, and perhaps the greater Asia-Pacific region. The company already has some live vehicles in Korea, but 95% of its data comes from the U.S., according to Richard Barlow, Wejo’s founder and CEO. Sompo will analyze Wejo’s connected vehicle data using the Palantir Foundry data and analytics platform, according to the company.

“The vast majority of cars now sold globally have this ability to be connected, so there’s a huge opportunity,” Barlow told TechCruch. “We have 11 million live cars on our platform out of a supply base of about 50 million vehicles. We have over 17 OEM partners live on the platform, and we’re processing 16 billion data points a day, a peak of about 40,000 per second, which explains why we’re also excited to be backed by Microsoft and to be migrating to their Azure cloud platform.”

Barlow says Wejo can see 7% of all vehicles moving around New York, 6% around California and 20% around Detroit from partnerships with automakers like GM, Daimler and Hyundai. The company can either hand off raw, anonymized data — collected from vehicles with the consent of the owner — to businesses, developers or governments, or it can perform data analytics for them, which is also where the partnership with Microsoft can come in handy.

“Microsoft came up with a really compelling solution about how we can leverage their machine learning and AI capabilities to actually provide even more incredible products back to OEMs and key industries that want to use connected vehicle data,” said Barlow. “So Microsoft’s Azure doing that heavy lifting is really going to speed up our business.”

According to Wejo, initial applications might include traffic solutions, as well as remote diagnostics, integrated payments, advertising, retail and logistics. The two companies are also discussing the potential of using Wejo for Microsoft’s mapping solutions. Barlow says mapping companies are often typical buyers of Wejo’s data and expects to see more insurance providers. 

“We’ve seen 11 million instances of two vehicles coming together, and in real time, we’re getting data from both those vehicles,” said Barlow. “So we’re starting to preempt and understand the characteristics or behaviours of before and after that collision or that interaction of vehicles.”

Wejo collects data that can recreate a car crash, from how each driver stomped on the brakes to which airbags were deployed to the speed of impact and which sensors were destroyed. It can then share this kind of data back to the insurer to help speed up the claims and recovery process and make repairs be more accurate, said Barlow.  

All of this data demonstrating human driving behaviors in a range of circumstances has been collected over the last seven years, making Wejo an attractive partner for companies developing autonomous technology.

#automotive, #connected-vehicles, #general-motors, #gm, #microsoft, #palantir, #sompo-holdings, #startups, #tc, #transportation, #wejo

Prologue, Honda’s first electric SUV, is coming to market in 2024

Honda said Monday it will sell its first electric SUV in North America in early 2024, part of the automaker’s push to shift away from gas-powered vehicles before the middle of the decade. The new car’s name, Prologue, is meant to signify the beginning of what the company called its “new electrified era.”

Prologue is one of two forthcoming Honda vehicles that will use General Motors’ Ultium Cells EV platform and battery packs. The other, yet unnamed car, will be under the Acura brand and will also debut in 2024. GM will also manufacture the two vehicles at its North American facilities, as part of a long-running partnership between the two OEMs.

The automaker is keeping quiet about key details of the new SUVs, including the price and even what the car will look like. But it will enter a competitive electric SUV market, up against rivals such as Tesla’s Model Y, the Ford Mustang Mach-E, and Volkswagen’s ID.4.

Honda joined other automakers, including GM and Volvo, in setting ambitious electrification targets. GEO Toshihiro Mibe in April set an escalating target for its global battery and fuel cell electric sales of 40% by 2030, 80% by 2035 and completely phasing out internal combustion engine sales by 2040. As part of that target, Honda said it has plans to develop its own EV platform, dubbed e:Architecture, for EV models launched in the second half of the decade.

Honda separately announced on Monday that it had entered into an agreement with Battery Resourcers to recycle batteries from Honda and Acura EVs. These batteries will initially be processed at the recycling firm’s site in Worcester, Massachusetts, and then at a commercial scale plant that the company says will be operational in 2022. Battery Resourcers recently raised a $20 million Series B to scale its operations, including opening the new plant.

#automotive, #battery-resourcers, #electric-vehicles, #general-motors, #honda, #transportation, #ultium-cells

Inside GM’s startup incubator strategy

GM has launched a series of new subsidiaries in the past year tackling electrification, connectivity and even insurance — all part of the automaker’s aim to find value (and profits) beyond its traditional business of making, selling and financing vehicles. These startups, including numerous ones that will never make the cut, get their start under Vice President of Innovation Pam Fletcher’s watch.

Fletcher, who joined TechCrunch on June 9 at the virtual TC Sessions: Mobility 2021 event, runs a group of 170 people developing and launching startups with a total addressable market of about $1.3 trillion.

Today, about 19 companies are making their way through the incubator in hopes of joining recent GM startups like OnStar Guardian, OnStar Insurance, GM Defense and BrightDrop, the commercial electric vehicle delivery business that launched in January. Not everything will make it, Fletcher told the audience, noting “we add new things all the time.”

Launching any startup presents challenges. But launching multiple startups within a 113-year-old automaker that employs 155,000 people globally is another, more complex matter. The bar, which determines whether these startups are ever publicly launched, is specific and high. A GM startup has to be a new idea that can attract new customers and grow the total addressable market for the automaker, using existing assets and IP.

The Volt effect

The 2010 Chevrolet Volt is a noteworthy moment on the GM timeline. The vehicle marked the company’s first commercial push into electrification since the 1990s EV1 program. Fletcher, who was the chief engineer of the Chevy Volt propulsion system from 2008 to 2011, noted that the Volt was the beginning of a change within the automaker that eventually led to other commercial products including the all-electric Chevy Bolt, the hands-free driver assistance system Super Cruise and its current work on autonomous vehicle development with its subsidiary Cruise.

I don’t know that the Volt was a root exactly of what we’re seeing today. But I think it was definitely the start of a groundswell of really looking at, how do we inject technology that customers are excited about and care about quickly? How do we engage them deeply in the process? … Which we’ve always done … just, I think there was a climate there where the appetite was so strong with a certain group of customers for the technology that it allowed us to get really a front row seat with them, which was game changing for those of us on the frontlines. And obviously, there have been many programs that have had that in their own ways, but you really see that accelerating now with the advent of everything we’re doing in electrification and autonomous and a portfolio that is just emerging even to the notion of applying some of these great technologies to our new full size, truck and SUV programs. So it’s really broad, based across the company, which is exciting. (Timestamp: 4:56)

Fletcher explained how working to commercialize new technology changed how the company interacted with customers.

With new technologies, one, you get to a new customer base sometimes. So, really understanding what that customer is looking like and putting them at the center of everything. Also, different technologies have different development processes and timelines and pipelines for activity. So, it really allowed us to start to think about how to approach each step of our product development and customer engagement differently. And the Volt was an interesting time too, because that was the advent of new social media was really starting to become much more popular. And so we were very connected with those customers and a great customer base that gave us tremendous feedback very directly, you know, through at the time, what was a new channel. (Timestamp: 3:50)

#automotive, #cruise-automation, #ec-techcrunch-tc-mobility, #electric-vehicle, #electric-vehicles, #evtol, #general-motors, #gm, #mary-barra, #pam-fletcher, #tc, #transportation

Planes, trains, but not automobiles—why GM is developing fuel cells

Using hydrogen in some of these applications probably makes more sense than building out a network of hydrogen filling stations for passenger cars.

Enlarge / Using hydrogen in some of these applications probably makes more sense than building out a network of hydrogen filling stations for passenger cars. (credit: Scharfsinn86/Getty Images)

In just the last week, General Motors signed agreements with not one but two companies to develop applications for its Hydrotec hydrogen fuel cell systems. At first glance, that might seem a little surprising, since last week we also saw Honda discontinue its hydrogen fuel cell-powered version of the Clarity. That move was just the latest bit of support for the hypothesis that hydrogen power might join Betamax and the Zune in the history books.

In fact, the history books are where you’ll find GM’s first hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle, the 1966 Electrovan. And in recent years we’ve seen some fuel cell EVs developed by GM for military applications. But neither of these new deals involves making a hydrogen-powered car.

Instead, last Tuesday the automaker announced it would work with Wabtec—which has already developed a battery-electric locomotive—to engineer freight locomotives powered by GM’s fuel cells and batteries. Then, on Thursday, GM revealed it was working with Liebherr-Aerospace to develop aerospace applications (like auxiliary power generation) for fuel cells. Intrigued, I spoke to Charlie Freese, GM’s executive director for Global Hydrotec and the man in charge of GM’s fuel cell program. Why does the company still think the lightest gas only has room to expand?

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#airplanes, #cars, #fcev, #general-motors, #gm, #h2, #hydrogen, #hydrogen-fuel-cell, #hydrotec, #trains, #trucks

Industrial cybersecurity startup Claroty raises $140M in pre-IPO funding round

Claroty, an industrial cybersecurity company that helps customers protect and manage their Internet of Things (IoT) and operational technology (OT) assets, has raised $140 million in its latest, and potentially last round of funding. 

With the new round of Series D funding, co-led by Bessemer Venture and 40 North, the company has now amassed a total of $235 million. Additional strategic investors include LG and I Squared Capital’s ISQ Global InfraTech Fund, with all previous investors — Team8, Rockwell Automation, Siemens, and Schneider Electric — also participating. 

Founded in 2015, the late-stage startup focuses on the industrial side of cybersecurity. Its customers include General Motors, Coca-Cola EuroPacific Partners, and Pfizer, with Claroty helping the pharmaceutical firm to secure its COVID-19 vaccine supply chain. Claroty tells TechCrunch it has seen “significant” customer growth over the past 18 months, largely fueled by the pandemic, with 110% year-over-year net new logo growth and 100% customer retention. 

It will use the newly raised funds to meet this rapidly accelerating global demand for The Claroty Platform, an end-to-end solution that provides visibility into industrial networks and combines secure remote access with continuous monitoring for threats and vulnerabilities. 

“Our mission is to drive visibility, continuity, and resiliency in the industrial economy by delivering the most comprehensive solutions that secure all connected devices within the four walls of an industrial site, including all operational technology (OT), Internet of Things (IoT), and industrial IoT (IIoT) assets,” said Claroty CEO Yaniv Vardi.

To meet this growing demand, the startup is planning to expand into new regions and verticals, including transportation government-owned industries, as well as increase its global headcount. The company, which is based in New York, currently has around 240 employees. 

Claroty hasn’t yet made any acquisitions, though CEO Yaniv Vardi tells TechCrunch that this could be part of the startup’s roadmap going forward.

“We’re waiting for the right opportunity at the right time, but it’s definitely part of the plan as part of the financial runway we just secured,” he said, adding that this latest funding round will likely be the company’s last before it explores a potential IPO.

“We are thinking that this is a pre-IPO funding round,” he said. “The end goal here is to be the market leader for industrial cybersecurity. One of the mascots can be going public with an IPO, but there are different options too, such as SPAC.”

The funding round comes amid a sharp increase in cyber targeting organizations that underpin the world’s critical infrastructure and supply chains. According to a recent survey carried out by Claroty, the majority (53%) of US industrial enterprises have seen an increase in cybersecurity threats since the start of 2020. The survey of 1,110 IT and OT security professionals also found that over half believed their organization is now more of a target for cybercriminals, with 67% having seen cybercriminals use new tactics amid the pandemic. 

“The number of attacks, and impact of these attacks, is increasing significantly, especially in verticals like food, automotive, and critical infrastructure. Vardi said. “That creates a lot of risk assessments public companies had to do, and these risks needed to be addressed with a security solution on the industrial side.”

#articles, #ceo, #coca-cola, #computer-security, #computing, #data-security, #food, #funding, #general-motors, #industrial-automation, #industrial-internet-of-things, #internet-of-things, #lg, #new-york, #operational-technology, #pfizer, #pharmaceutical, #siemens, #startup-company, #startups, #team8, #techcrunch, #technology, #united-states

GM increases EV and AV investments to $35B through 2025

General Motors Co. has yet again upped the amount it says it will spend on electric and autonomous vehicle investments, saying Wednesday that it would spend $35 billion through 2025 – an $8 billion increase from its previous plan announced in November 2020.

The company has set a target to bring 30 new EVs to the global market 30 by 2025 and to transition to all-zero-emission by 2035. With the new investment, GM said it will add new electric commercial trucks to its North American plan, as well as build additional U.S. assembly capacity for electric SUVs.

Beyond building out a large portfolio of new electric models, the automaker has taken a multi-pronged approach in its quest to lead the EV revolution: it is also investing in two new battery cell plants under its joint venture with LG Chem, dubbed Ultium Cells LLC; and it’s poured funding into Cruise, its autonomous driving arm that it purchased for majority-ownership in 2016.

The news was announced one day after Cruise said it had tapped a $5 billion line of credit from the OEM’s financial arm as it prepares for commercialization of its Origin electric and autonomous vehicle. Commercial production of the Origin is anticipated to begin in 2023.

GM also manufactures hydrogen fuel cells under its HYDROTEC joint initiative with Honda. It confirmed Wednesday that it will launch the third-generation HYDROTEC cells by mid-decade. The automaker has partnership agreements with heavy truck developer Navistar and Liebherr-Aerospace, which is developing hydrogen fuel cell power systems for aircraft.

The company also said yesterday it would supply fuel cells and EV batteries to Wabtec Corportation, a Pittsburgh-based company developing the world’s first battery locomotive.

“GM is targeting annual global EV sales of more than 1 million by 2025, and we are increasing our investment to scale faster because we see momentum building in the United States for electrification, along with customer demand for our product portfolio,” CEO Mary Barra said in a statement Wednesday.

Ford announced a similar increase in EV investment last month, when it said it would invest $30 billion by 2025, up from $22 billion by 2023.

#automotive, #autonomous-vehicles, #cruise, #electric-vehicles, #general-motors, #gm, #transportation, #ultium, #ultium-cells-llc

G.M. to Boost Electric Vehicle Spending, Build Battery Plants

General Motors’ push to increase E.V. spending follows an announcement by Ford that it would start making an electric version of its F-150 pickup truck this year.

#automobiles, #barra-mary-t, #batteries, #company-reports, #electric-and-hybrid-vehicles, #factories-and-manufacturing, #general-motors, #production

General Motors, Lockheed Martin to develop new lunar rover for NASA Artemis missions to the moon

The last time humans visited the moon in 1972, they got around on a relatively simple battery-powered vehicle. As NASA prepares for the next crewed mission to the moon, it’s looking to give the lunar rover an upgrade.

Lockheed Martin and General Motors said Wednesday they’re working together to develop a next-generation lunar vehicle designed to be faster and capable of traveling farther distances than its predecessor. If the project is selected by NASA, the rover would be used on the upcoming Artemis missions. The first mission, which will be an uncrewed test flight, is scheduled for November. The request for proposals will likely be published in the third or fourth quarter of this year, executives said at a media briefing Wednesday. NASA will award the contract after evaluating the submitted proposals.

The previous rover was only capable of traveling less than five miles from the Apollo landing site, limiting the astronauts’ ability to collect important data on far-flung lunar locales, like the north and south poles. The Moon’s circumference is nearly 7,000 miles. The two companies are aiming to improve the specs, Lockheed’s VP for lunar exploration Kirk Shireman said, noting that the exact materials used for the new rover, its range and other capabilities have yet to be determined.

GM will also be developing an autonomous driving system for the rover, which executives said Wednesday will improve safety and the ability for astronauts to collect samples and conduct other scientific research. GM is investing more than $27 billion through 2025 in electric and autonomous vehicle technologies and it aims to bring that research to the lunar rover project, Jeffrey Ryder, VP of growth and strategy at GM Defense, said. “We’re heads-down right now in investigating how we would take those capabilities and apply them to specific missions and operation associated with the Artemis program.”

GM also said it will be using its earth-bound research into battery and propulsion systems in developing the rover. Ryder anticipates that the rover program will lead to other market opportunities.

Both companies have supplied technology for NASA missions before, including its lunar missions. Auto manufacturer GM helped develop the previous lunar rover that was used during the Apollo era, including its chassis and wheels. It also manufactured and integrated guidance and navigational systems for the program. Aerospace giant Lockheed Martin’s experience extends to building spacecraft and power systems that have been included on every NASA mission to Mars.

The companies said this was “one of several initiatives” they’re working on together, with further announcements regarding other projects expected in the future.

#aerospace, #artemis-mission, #artemis-program, #automotive, #general-motors, #lockheed-martin, #lunar-mission, #nasa, #space, #tc

Ford F-150 Lightning Is a Major New E.V. Contender

If it sells well, an electric version of the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. could help accelerate the move to electric vehicles.

#american-jobs-plan-2021, #automobiles, #biden-joseph-r-jr, #dearborn-mich, #electric-and-hybrid-vehicles, #ford-motor-co, #ford-william-clay-jr, #fuel-emissions-transportation, #general-motors, #global-warming, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #production, #sports-utility-vehicles-and-light-trucks, #tesla-motors-inc, #united-states, #united-states-politics-and-government

Opportunity knocks: Exhibit at TC Sessions: Mobility 2021

No matter what slice of the mobility market you’ve claimed as your own — AVs, EVs, data mining, AI, dockless scooters, robotics or the batteries that will charge and change the world — you won’t find a better place to showcase your extraordinary tech and talent than TC Sessions: Mobility 2021.

Buy a Startup Exhibitor Package and virtually plant your early-stage mobility startup in front of a global audience that’s focused exclusively on one of the most complex, rapidly evolving industries. TC Sessions: Mobility, which takes place on June 9, features the top minds and makers, draws thousands of attendees, fosters collaborative community and creates a networking environment ripe with opportunities.

Pro tip: This package is for pre-Series A, early-stage startups only.

The Startup Exhibitor Package costs $380, and it comes with four all-access passes to the event. But wait (insert infomercial voice here), there’s more!

Your virtual expo booth features lead-generation capabilities. You can highlight your pitch deck, run a video loop and/or host live demos. Network with CrunchMatch, our AI-powered platform, to find and connect with the people who can help move your business forward. CrunchMatch lets you host private video meetings — pitch investors, recruit new talent or grow your customer base.

You’ll have access to all the presentations, panel discussions and breakout sessions, too. And video-on-demand means you won’t miss out.

Here’s a peek at just some of the agenda’s great programming you and, thanks to those extra passes, your team can attend — or catch later with VOD:

  • EV Founders in Focus: We sit down with the founders poised to take advantage of the rise in electric vehicle sales. This time, we will chat with Kameale Terry, co-founder and CEO of ChargerHelp! a startup that enables on-demand repair of electric vehicle charging stations.
  • Will Venture Capital Drive the Future of Mobility? Clara Brenner, Quin Garcia and Rachel Holt will discuss how the pandemic changed their investment strategies, the hottest sectors within the mobility industry, the rise of SPACs as a financial instrument and where they plan to put their capital in 2021 and beyond.
  • Driving Innovation at General Motors: GM is in the midst of sweeping changes that will eventually turn it into an EV-only producer of cars, trucks and SUVs. But the auto giant’s push to electrify passenger vehicles is just one of many efforts to be a leader in innovation and the future of transportation. We’ll talk with Pam Fletcher, vice president of innovation at GM, one of the key people behind the 113-year-old automaker’s push to become a nimble, tech-centric company.

TC Sessions: Mobility 2021 takes place June 9. Buy a Startup Exhibitor Package and set yourself up for global exposure and networking success. Show us your extraordinary tech and talent!

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at TC Sessions: Mobility 2021? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

#artificial-intelligence, #automotive, #chargerhelp, #clara-brenner, #data-mining, #entrepreneurship, #events, #general-motors, #leader, #pam-fletcher, #private-equity, #quin-garcia, #rachel-holt, #startup-company, #startups, #tc, #tc-sessions-mobility-2021, #transportation

Lordstown Motors Shares Plunge as Investors See Problems

Lordstown Motors said it would start producing and selling electric pickup trucks this year, but there is little evidence it is ready to do so. Its stock has tumbled from a high of about $30 last year to around $8.

#automobiles, #burns-steve-automotive-executive, #electric-and-hybrid-vehicles, #factories-and-manufacturing, #general-motors, #lordstown-ohio, #lordstown-motors-corp, #special-purpose-acquisition-companies-spac, #sports-utility-vehicles-and-light-trucks

U.S. Asks Mexico to Investigate Labor Issues at G.M. Facility

The administration learned of what appeared to be “serious violations” of labor rights, it said, and is using a new tool in the North American trade deal to seek a review.

#collective-bargaining, #factories-and-manufacturing, #general-motors, #mexico, #office-of-the-united-states-trade-representative, #organized-labor, #united-states-mexico-canada-agreement, #workplace-hazards-and-violations

GM and LG Chem’s Ultium Cells partners with Li-Cycle to process manufacturing waste

Ultium Cells LLC, a joint venture between General Motors and LG Chem, has been steadily building up its battery cell manufacturing capacity in the U.S. since the venture was first announced in December 2019. But with each battery cell they produce, they’ll also produce waste – tricky-to-handle waste that also has too much inherent valuable to toss into a landfill.

Instead of throwing it away, Ultium is sending it to a recycler. The venture has executed an agreement with Canadian company Li-Cycle to recycle critical materials from the scrap produced from Ultium’s manufacturing processes from its Lordstown plant, starting later in 2020. The materials from the Lordstown location will be sent to Li-Cycle’s recycling location in Rochester, New York, to be processed and returned to the battery supply chain.

General Motors and LG Chem are clearly determined to scale their battery cell manufacturing. Around 5-10% of the output of a cell manufacturer is this excess scrap. Considering that the Lordstown facility will be capable of producing 30 gigawatt hours of capacity annually, it’s sure to produce a sizable amount of waste material. (For perspective, Tesla’s factory in Nevada has a 35 GW-hour capacity.)

Li-Cycle’s approach is different from more traditional recycling processes, co-founder Ajay Kochhar told TechCrunch. Traditional recycling use a pyrometallurgical, or high temperature, process. With this process, batteries go into a furnace and excess material, like plastics and the electrolyte, are burned off, leaving around a 50% recovery rate for the valuable raw materials.

Li-Cycle also differs from competitors like Redwood Materials, which also use high-temperature, Kochhar explained. Redwood processes things like consumer electronics, which requires different approaches. Li-cycle uses a hydrometallurgical process that shreds – actually shreds, like a paper shredder – the battery materials in a submerged, proprietary solution. Doing it this way reduces the thermal risk of a fire and recovers up to 95% of the battery materials (Redwood also claims a recovery rate of 95-98%). By not burning anything off, the company also avoids producing potentially toxic emissions, Kochhar said.

Shredded lithium-ion batteries. Image Credits: Li-Cycle (opens in a new window)

The cathode and anode material is converted into battery-grade chemicals, like lithium carbonate, nickel sulfate and cobalt sulfate. Li-Cycle works with a company Traxys, which buys the chemical material.

“And where it goes from there is back into cathode making and back into the broader economy and battery supply chain,” Kochhar said. The next step would be a “true circular economy closed loop” where the same material used by a manufacturer is returned back to it.

The company has two recycling “spokes,” where shredding and mechanical separation occurs, in Rochester and Ontario, Canada, with a third commercial facility being built in Arizona. Once the Arizona facility becomes operational, Li-Cycle will be able to process around 20,000 metric tons, or 4 gigawatt-hours, of lithium-ion batteries annually. It’s also building what it calls a “hub” to make the battery chemicals in Rochester, which will have an annual capacity to process around 60,000 metric tons of battery scrap and “black mass” (a mix of cathode and anode material, and one of the outputs from the company’s “spokes”).

It works with 14 different automotive and battery manufacturers (though not all of those deals are public), as well as auto dealers and auto recyclers to accept and process spent lithium-ion batteries.

Ultium in April announced a second $2.3 billion U.S.-based battery factory in Spring Hill, Tennessee that is due to open in 2023. Both factories will supply the automaker with the cells needed for the 30 electric vehicle models it plans to launch by mid decade. However, it is not known if Li-Cycle will process waste from this plant, too.

Notably, the company also recycles R&D scrap from various automakers, giving Li-Cycle “a kind of first look at what’s coming down the pipe” in terms of battery technology, Kochhar said. That helps the company stay on top of the newest battery chemistries and technologies, like solid-state or lithium iron phosphate (LFP), and develop recycling processes accordingly. Li-Cycle already processes some LFP batteries; in those instances it remakes the phosphate back into a fertilizer additive.

In this case, Kochhar said he hopes people see this partnership as a proof point for the economic and environmental case for electric vehicles.

“This should be one commercial example [. . .] that EV batteries will not go into a landfill,” he said. “They’re very valuable. The technology’s here to deal with that in an economically and environmentally friendly fashion.”

#automotive, #general-motors, #lg-chem, #lithium-ion-batteries, #recycling, #tc, #transportation

E.V. Buying Guide: What to Know About Models, Batteries, Charging and More

Buying an electric car can be exciting and bewildering. Consider what kind of car you want and need and where you will charge.

#automobiles, #bayerische-motorenwerke-ag, #content-type-service, #electric-and-hybrid-vehicles, #ford-motor-co, #fuel-efficiency, #fuel-emissions-transportation, #general-motors, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #lucid-holdings-llc, #mercedes-benz, #musk-elon, #nissan-motor-co, #personal-finances, #rivian-automotive-llc, #sports-utility-vehicles-and-light-trucks, #tax-credits-deductions-and-exemptions, #tesla-motors-inc, #united-states, #volkswagen-ag

GM partners with 7 charging networks ahead of electric vehicle push

GM revealed Wednesday a four-part plan meant to handle all the steps of charging an electric vehicle, including finding a public charger and paying for the power, as the automaker seeks ways to attract customers to the 30 EVs it plans to launch by 2025.

The so-called Ultium Charge 360 plan — named after the underlying electric vehicle platform and batteries of its upcoming EVs — aims to handle the access, payment and customer service components of charging an electric vehicle at home and on the road. As part of the plan, which the company’s chief EV officer Travis Hester said will be rolling out over the next 18 months, GM has signed agreements with seven third-party charging network providers including Blink Charging, ChargePoint, EV Connect, EVgo, FLO, Greenlots and SemaConnect. Using their GM vehicle brand mobile app, EV drivers will be able to see real-time information, including location and whether a charger is being used, from nearly 60,000 charging plugs throughout the U.S. and Canada. These functions will be rolled into the existing brand apps GM has created for owners of its Chevrolet, Cadillac and GMC vehicles.

The first GM and EVgo sites are now live in Washington, California and Florida. GM said each site is capable of delivering up to 350 kilowatts and averages four chargers per site. GM and EVgo are on track to have about 500 fast charging stalls live by the end of 2021, according to the automaker.

Hester noted the plan isn’t just about how many third-party networks it partners with. (Although it should be noted that Electrify America is not on its list of partners announced Wednesday).

“We know how critical the charging infrastructure is to our customers and how it plays a hugely significant role in EV adoption and experienced EV owners know that this is much more complicated than just a simple network quantity issue,” said Hester, GM’s chief EV officer said in a media briefing Wednesday.

For instance, the GM app will provide information on how to find stations along a route and initiate and pay for charging, Hester said. GM will continue to update the mobile app. GM is also planning to offer charging accessories and installation services for their home charger. The company Wednesday it will cover standard installation of Level 2 charging capability for eligible customers who purchase or lease a 2022 Bolt EUV or Bolt EV in collaboration with Qmerit.

There were some gaps in the announcement, notably whether there would Plug and Charge capabilities. Plug and Charge is a technology standard that allows the driver of an EV to pull up to a station, plug in and power up their EV without having to launch an app to begin the charging process or to pay for it. Instead, the vehicle is able to communicate with the charging infrastructure and the payment is integrated into that process. Alex Keros, the lead architect for EV infrastructure at GM, said the company wasn’t making any announcements around Plug and Charge, but noted that the company knows “that enabling that seamless experiences is going to be an important part of that customer experience.”

#automotive, #chargepoint, #electric-vehicles, #evgo, #general-motors, #gm, #lithium-ion-batteries, #ultium

Everything we know about the $59,990 electric Cadillac Lyriq

On Wednesday, Cadillac formally revealed the production version of its next SUV. Called the Lyriq, when it goes on sale next year starting at $59,990, it will join the Hummer EV as part of General Motors’ third wave of electric vehicles (after Chevrolet’s experiments with the EV1 and Bolt EV).

If you think this vehicle looks familiar, you’re right—in August 2020, Cadillac presented a show-car version of the Lyriq, and the production version has changed very little. But, at the time, Cadillac wasn’t ready to talk technical specs. Now it is.

Propulsion to the rear wheels is provided by one of GM’s Ultium Drive motors that will appear in more than 20 new EVs in the coming few years. That electric motor endows the Lyriq with 225 kW (340 hp) and 440 Nm (325 lb-ft), which should mean the 2,545 kg (5,610 lb) SUV will be appropriately quick as opposed to face-meltingly fast.

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#cadillac-lyriq, #cars, #electric-vehicle, #general-motors, #ultium, #ultium-drive

Scale AI founder and CEO Alexandr Wang will join us at TC Sessions: Mobility on June 9

Last week, Scale AI announced a massive $325 million Series E. Led by Dragoneer, Greenoaks Capital and Tiger Global, the raise gives the San Francisco data labeling startup a $7 billion valuation.

Alexandr Wang founded the company back in 2016, while still at MIT. A veteran of Quora and Addepar, Wang built the startup to curate information for AI applications. The company is now a break-even business, with a wide range of top-notch clients, including General Motors, NVIDIA, Nuro and Zoox.

Backed by a ton of venture capital, the company plans a large-scale increase in its headcount, as it builds out new products and expands into additional markets. “One thing that we saw, especially in the course of the past year, was that AI is going to be used for so many different things,” Wang told