Sustainability

GM's Spring Hill plant will be run on solar power by 2022

General Motors workers on the line Thursday, December 8, 2016 at the General Motors Spring Hill Manufacturing plant.

Photo by Sanford Myers for General Motors

The Spring Hill Manufacturing plant started as the home of the Saturn Corporation. Now, it's turning to the sun. General Motors has announced that the Tennessee facility will be able to run on purely solar power by late 2022 thanks to a tariff agreement with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).

The TVA Green Invest program is designed to help companies reach sustainability goals by partnering with local power companies to build large-scale renewable energy installations in the Tennessee Valley, which overs most of southwest and eastern Tennessee.

General Motors Tennessee Valley Authority Photo courtesy of General Motors

As part of the agreement, TVA will supply up to 100 megawatts of solar energy per year, the equivalent of the amount of energy used by 18,000 U.S. households annually. GM's energy will come from a solar farm in Lowndes County, Mississippi that is currently under development by Origis Energy.

The plant is the largest manufacturing facility GM has in North America, totaling 2,100 acres. One-third of the acreage is dedicated to farming and 100 acres is dedicated to wildlife habitat. The wildlife area has received Gold recognition and certification from the Wildlife Habitat Council.

GM has committed to sourcing 100 percent of electricity from renewables in the U.S. by 2030 at GM-owned sites. This latest agreement movies the current total to around 50 percent.

General Motors isn't the only company committed to sustainable assembly plants. FCA recently released a report detailing its efforts. Toyota is building a hydrogen-powered city and Volkswagen is funding a purchase of land near its Chattanooga plant for conservation.

Currently, the Spring Hill plant builds the GMC Acadia and the Cadillac XT5 and XT6, as well as several engines for a variety of vehicles.

General Motors has invested $2 billion in the plant in the last decade.

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Improved hot hatch

The 2022 VW Golf GTI gets new handling tech

Improvements to the GTI's handling and steering should make it even faster in the curves.

Volkswagen

The Volkswagen Golf GTI is one of the most recognizable and popular cars the automaker sells. After a bumpy few years that ended with the standard Golf model being nixed from VW's U.S catalog, we're starting to see concrete details on the upcoming performance variants of the car, which will thankfully end up heading our way. The eighth-generation Golf GTI and Golf R will make landfall in the United States as 2022 models, and will both feature a load of new tech and refinements. VW just announced the changes that are being made to the GTI's handling and performance systems, and they are extensive, to say the least.


2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI VW is offering the 8th-gen Golf only in high-performance GTI and R configurations.Volkswagen


Volkswagen is giving the legendary hot hatch a host of improvements, which the automaker says will give the car more precise, stable handling at its limit. The GTI's front suspension has been reconfigured with new wishbone bearings and damping hydraulics. VW says that the car's springs and buffer stops have also been revised, which will give the font axle spring rate that is five percent higher than its predecessor. A new aluminum subframe is also in place, which will reduce weight by seven pounds over the previous car.

The eighth-generation Golf brought a new VW Vehicle Dynamics Manager system which will also benefit the upcoming GTI. The system integrates the car's electronic stability control with its electronic differentials, and in GTI models equipped with the optional DCC adaptive damping system, the system adjusts individual wheel damping up to 200 times per second. The differential itself will now come standard with all GTI models. It's an electronically-controlled torque-sensing limited-slip unit, which varies the levels of its intervention based on how the car is being driven and on how the other traction control functions are being used.


2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI The GTI's steering is now more responsive.Volkswagen


The GTI's steering system has also been revised to now include an enhanced progressive steering function that uses software to help turn the vehicle with less steering effort, depending on speed. Volkswagen says that the GTI's steering takes just 2.1 turns of the steering wheel to go from lock to lock when it's equipped with 18-inch wheels.

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New crossover

Toyota Announces 2022 Corolla Cross

The Corolla Cross is smaller than a RAV4.

Toyota

Almost a year ago, Toyota released yet another crossover, this time in Thailand, but it wasn't the release's location that made news. Toyota unveiled the new Corolla Cross, a crossover based on the automaker's legendarily dependable car bearing the same name. The rumor mill kicked into action, speculating on when the new vehicle would make its way to the U.S., and now we have our answer. Today, Toyota announced the 2022 Corolla Cross for the United States and released many key details on its features and configurations.

Toyota will offer the Corolla Cross in three trims: L, LE, and XLE. All three will be powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 169 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque. The engine is paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) and front-wheel drive by default, but all-wheel drive can be added to any trim level. The CVT has been configured with a physical first gear, which Toyota says improves driver engagement, but it should also help with off-the-line acceleration. The base L trim will ride on 17-inch steel wheels and the top XLE trim gets 18-inch alloys.


2022 Toyota Corolla Cross The Corolla Cross is less "out there" than the C-HR.Toyota


Though it will share a platform with the C-HR, the Corolla Cross will be slightly larger than the funky vehicle. It slots into the Toyota lineup between the quirky smaller crossover and the massively popular RAV4, giving the automaker yet another competitor in the crossover-crazed U.S. auto market.

The Corolla Cross will at least have some capability to back up its name. The vehicle will be able to tow up to 1,500 pounds, and when equipped with all-wheel drive it will offer a torque vectoring system. When needed, the system can send up to 50 percent of drive power to the rear wheels, but disengages when not in use. Beyond improving traction, the system helps conserve fuel, netting the Corolla Cross a 32-mpg combined rating with FWD and 30 combined mpg with AWD.


2022 Toyota Corolla Cross Inside, the Cross looks quite a bit like the standard Corolla.Toyota


Inside, the Corolla Cross' front cabin area could easily be mistaken for that of its sedan counterpart. Screen placement and overall design are quite similar to that of the good old Corolla. Standard technology features for the Corolla Cross will include a 7.0-inch touchscreen that runs Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The LE and XLE models will get an eight-inch touchscreen and can be upgraded with an optional nine-speaker JBL sound system.

Toyota will include its Safety Sense suite of advanced driver aids with every Corolla Cross, which includes blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alerts for the base LE model. The XLE trim picks up front and rear parking assist with automatic braking.


2022 Toyota Corolla Cross Passenger space is a priority in the Corolla Cross.Toyota


The Corolla Cross doesn't have a set release date yet, but its 2022 model year is a good indication that we'll see more on the vehicle in a few months. Pricing details will become available as we approach the vehicle's on-sale date.

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