If you live in Michigan, you couldn’t help but be inundated with news about the official unveiling of the Chevy Volt. Run on electricity from its 16-kWh, lithium-ion battery, it has a gas/E85-powered engine to sustain the battery and keep the car moving. GM estimates that a driver who drives about 40 miles per day should save about $1,500 a year. Other features include a 7-inch touchscreen display, climate and infotainment controls, GPS, and Bluetooth capability. Unfortunately, GM won’t even begin production until 2010 on the $40,000 car.
Read More | Autoblog Green
AM General, the company that makes the Hummer H2 for GM, is hoping to make wheelchair-accessible vehicles by 2010. The car will be made for the U.S. and Canada and will include an automatic ramp that will be able to handle wheelchairs, scooters, and other mobile devices. They say they already have reservations for 3,500 units. Since GM has mentioned that other parties might be interested in its Hummer brand, it will be interesting to see if this will be another carrot or a last ditch effort by the company to keep those gas-hogs on the road.
Read More | Detroit News
General Motors researchers are working on a new windshield that gives those who have vision problems an easier way to see the road. The glass combines lasers, infrared sensors and a camera to enhance images on the road. The combined technology enlarges objects that are already in the driver’s view. While GM feels that the ideal target for this product would be the aging baby boomers, we are all for anyone who can use it and perhaps save a deer or two.
Read More | ABC News
When General Motors contacted us about bringing us up to their Proving Grounds in Milford, MI, we jumped at the chance at getting to visit what we figured would be an awesome place. We were right - General Motors’ Milford Proving Grounds was the industry’s first dedicated automobile testing facility when it opened in 1924. It covers 4,000 acres, and over 4,800 staff work in its 107 buildings today. The proving ground includes the equivalent of 132 mi of highway-quality roads for vehicle testing. Some roads are open only to drivers who have passed special performance driving training.
We got a first-hand look at the new StabiliTrak technology that GM will be making a standard feature on all their vehicles in a couple of years, which aims to give drivers a lot more stability during sudden turns and avoidance maneuvers. In addition, GM gives us some tips on how to maintain control of your vehicle, even in extreme (and often unsafe) conditions. Check out the video for all the goods, and leave us any driving tips you may have in the comments.
By 2009, if they are done dealing with the UAW, GM will be equipping its new vehicles with a system that will aid police to remotely stop high-speed chases. In cooperation with OnStar, who can already track devices and help cops find stolen vehicles, it will also issue a signal that remotely slows the car down to idle speed. OnStar is free initially for owners of GM automobiles that have them built in, but must pay for the service beginning with the second year. OnStar says that about 60% continue to subscribe after that first year. In light of the price of new vehicles and fuel, we are not surprised that many decide to opt out and spend the extra on gas.
Read More | OnStar
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We visited one of the fifty or so groups participating in the DARPA Urban Challenge during one of their qualifying rounds. In case you are unaware, the DARPA Urban Challenge is a charge given publicly to groups who are capable of designing and proving the technology for autonomously driven vehicles. Carnegie Mellon University teamed up with GM to create an autonomous SUV they call “Boss.” In order to participate in November’s 60-mile urban driverless race, they need to pass this benchmark. Check out the video to see Boss pull perfect three point turns and beautifully follow traffic rules - even at four way stops with other cars. We’re crazy excited to see this technology come alive in our society. The team from DARPA is darting back and forth across our country qualifying and disqualifying entries. Some of the remaining companies and teams will bring us autonomously driven cars during our lifetime, its amazing how close we already are.