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Gorehamj

A Closer Look At Cruise Helps Clarify GM’s Plan For The Future

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John Goreham
Contributing Writer, GM-Trucks.com
11-29-2018

 

Now that GM has dropped the bomb on eight plants and about 15% of its workforce, the hard part seems over. GM will have some political wrangling to do, but GM's leadership has been crushing that for years. This latest shift will be peanuts compared to the late 2000s. Understanding that GM is planning to ice a handful of car models and shut down some factories is not that difficult. Getting a full picture of exactly what GM is talking about for its big-picture future is. GM won't put Marry Barra in front of reporters who will ask things like "What happens to trucks when GM shifts its focus to tiny driverless EVs? And why does GM's CEO Mary Barra drive an Escalade if GM is so convinced the Bolt is the cat's meow?" 

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General Motors’ Mary Barra has been talking to friendly interviewers about GM’s “… commitment to transforming mobility through the safe deployment of self-driving technology…” and the company’s move toward its “…vision for a future with zero crashes, zero emissions, and zero congestion.” Just what the H E double hockey sticks does that really mean? To understand the answer it is important to look at a company GM controls and has partnered with, Cruise Automation.

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Cruise are the folks who are developing the self-driving, electric car technology GM plans to lean heavily on as it transitions from offering exclusively personal vehicles to a new market GM envisions in which people share the use of vehicles. Like Uber, but without the employee behind the wheel. Cruise captures the future idea in its mission statement. “Self-driving electric cars can save millions of lives and significantly accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy, but only when they’re deployed in large numbers. General Motors and Cruise Automation are focused on bringing that future to life.” That "Only in large numbers" part is code for "Once personal vehicles are phased out." Modern EVs, the foundation for the cars GM is talking about, have now been on the market since 2010 when the Leaf and Volt were introduced. In the nearly ten calendar years since the electric marvels have arrived, no affordable electrified vehicle, (say with a price under $40K) has been able to sustain a sales volume of 2,000 units per month. The top-seller is the Prius Prime, which has sold over 22,000 units in the past 11 months.  The Chevy Bolt has actually declined in sales recently after hitting its stride back in the second half of 2017. 

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To date, Cruise has been working closely with GM’s engineering team to adapt technology to existing platforms, like the Chevy Bolt battery electric vehicle. All self-driving vehicle prototypes use either battery-electric cars or hybrids because they need to tap the energy on board to power their sensors and controls. These new self-driving vehicles are shockingly expensive by comparison to conventional cars their size. Forget about the gizmos that help the Cruise version of the Bolt drive itself. Before all that tech is added, the compact Bolt has a starting price of $37K. A Nissan Kicks is about the same size and starts under $20k. Throw in a handful of lidar, radar, and binocular optical sensor arrays (meaning multiples of each of these) along with ultra-accurate mapping and GPS guidance for redundancy, plus the supercomputer to drive it all, and a compact car could cost well over $50K. Before you add stuff like leather and heated seats. A car like that cannot possibly succeed in the marketplace, so you are supporting their development via ZEV credits behind the scenes and federal tax deductions and state rebates directly to the folks who buy the EVs now on sale. Once the self-driving version of these super-expensive vehicles is ready a whole new type of financial support will be needed. 

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As time goes on, keep a close eye on the folks at Cruise. They are likely to be a good bellwether for what is coming. 

 

 

 

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So the plan to eliminate personal cars is to quit making them? :lurk:

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I don't want this.

Electric cars, hydrogen powered engines, flux compensator, I don't care.

But self driving cars?

I know it sounds silly but it's scary.

 

7 hours ago, Gorehamj said:

“…vision for a future with zero crashes, zero emissions, and zero congestion.”

...

"Only in large numbers" part is code for "Once personal vehicles are phased out."

Does that mean that car makers will cease to exist after they've produced a sufficient amount of cars?

Or, who cares about the latest model when you can't own it?

Well, this zero emission thing is just an eyewash anyway. Can't believe that people are still falling for it.

 

so long

j-ten-ner

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The day I get into a self driving car is the day every single vehicle on the road is a self driving car.  In other words.  Never!

 

If every single vehicle on the road was self driving then I could see it being safer than with driver cars.  The SD cars can basically talk to each other.  But as long as you have human interaction on the road and wild life no thanks.  I just don't put my trust into it.  Heck even we bipeds can't avoid certain things otherwise why do we need insurance.

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When I went to high school, portable transistor radios were a dream item amongst the elite few.  Learning to diagnose and repair tube amplifiers was a passion of mine.  I saved for, and with my Dad's help,  purchased  a Bogen 20 watt mono amplifier!  A short telegram for Christmas from my grandparents was received with heartfelt emotion.   etc. etc.  The changes proposed for the private automobile don't surprise me but hard to imagine using today's reference points.  If I told my high school classmates back in the 60's that they will all be carrying personal computers that fit in their pockets and then explain what a computer can do, I would have been sent to a secured facility!

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The technology will go further than what we can imagine today. No doubt about it.

And self driving cars are the future, I guess.

I know it sounds very dramatic, but taking away the freedom to drive his own car from a German is like taking the guns from the Americans.

That what's freaking me out...lol

 

so long

j-ten-ner

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When a self driving electric Prius can carry a crew of men to the bush, through creeks and up steep icy roads that sometimes require chains, on unmapped bush roads, with 200 gallons of coloured fuel on board, maybe I will buy one.

 

When a Tesla class 8 can also find its way into the bush, brake properly and run the hills so it doesn't spin out or crash, get a load of logs and chain it down then drop it at the mill, and do it all over 8 hours later, maybe I will buy one.  

 

The fact is that this technology may be just around the corner in NYC or LA, in rural Canada it is decades or a century away. We barely have cell phone coverage once you leave the main highway and we have had cell phones up here for 25 years now. These vehicles will never be more than city commuters, so the fact GM is willing to jump on a grenade, to me is quite confusing from a business perspective. I get cancelling cars that don't sell and looking into the future, but I don't understand how laying off 25% of your work force and abandoning billions in Property/Plant/Equipment is a viable business plan. I think this will (and should be) be the nail in the coffin for Marry Barra, and maybe General Motors as a whole in the coming decade. Maybe its time for Barra to go be the CEO of Green Peace. 

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Looks to me just like Ford GM is pretty much exiting building cars but for a very select few. They like Ford are chasing the gold right now which is trucks and suv .Handing the car building to companies of foreign origin. Self driving sounds nice GM but you can barely make a transmission shift anymore let alone a air conditioner condensor.....I rather drive vehicle than you GM. Trust myself way more than you.

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5 hours ago, L86 All Terrain said:

When a self driving electric Prius can carry a crew of men to the bush, through creeks and up steep icy roads that sometimes require chains, on unmapped bush roads, with 200 gallons of coloured fuel on board, maybe I will buy one.

 

When a Tesla class 8 can also find its way into the bush, brake properly and run the hills so it doesn't spin out or crash, get a load of logs and chain it down then drop it at the mill, and do it all over 8 hours later, maybe I will buy one.  

...

I'd be happy if I could still get my boat to the lake and launch it...

 

so long

j-ten-ner

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This crap automakers are chasing is going to destroy them. GM and others are chasing this vision of a future where everyone uses ride sharing plans with EVs and automated driving. Ride sharing, short range EVs may work in the city but they seem to forget those of us who don’t live in the city. EV tech will take decades to reach the usefulness/convienence of gas and diesel and frankly autonomous cars will likely never be 100% implemented. Just too many variables once you’re off the freeway. 

 

All this progressive stuff makes for nice talking points on TV and in’s shareholder meetings but in the real world, it’s a flop. 

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In about 15K units, GM EV buyers will lose the $7500 tax credit.  GM will probably reach the max unit number (200K) in June of 2019.  Are these vehicles worth 50K? 

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"And why does GM's CEO Mary Barra drive an Escalade if GM is so convinced the Bolt is the cat's meow?" 

 

EXACTLY.  The Powers That Be (formerly known as the New World Order) are trying to force this crap on us little people, while they exempt themselves from the constraints they place on us!  

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