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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The WarnerMediaRIDE App provides thousands of hours of streaming content to Toyota and Lexus vehicle owners.

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

If there's one thing parents want, it's a way to keep kids from fighting in the car. Not only that, it has to work. Toyota and AT&T have teamed up to deliver just such a solution to Toyota and Lexus vehicle owners.

When connected to AT&T in-car Wi-Fi, the WarnerMedia RIDE App allows Toyota and Lexus owners to connect up to five compatible devices to browse, stream and share content from the open road. Passengers can view a rotating selection of live and on-demand content, including thousands of hours of hit TV shows and movies from top channels and services such as Cartoon Network, CNN, HBO Max, and TruTV, spanning animation, news and sports programming and more.

Owners of select 2020 model year and newer Toyota and Lexus vehicles are eligible for a complimentary Wi-Fi data plan trial for up to 90 days. Owners can activate their trial within the Toyota and Lexus owners app.

2021 Toyota Highlander Select Toyota vehicles will get the tech. Expect the Toyota Sienna to be one of them. Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

"By working with AT&T to provide access to WarnerMedia RIDE, we are reimagining the in-vehicle entertainment experience and ensuring that passengers have access to their favorite content wherever the road may take them," said Steve Basra, group vice president, Toyota Motor North America, Connected Technologies. "We're also excited to offer additional enhancements within our customer app and to provide one resource for our customers to access their in-vehicle features."

"Customers are hungry for access to new experiences with integrated, everywhere connectivity. Our relationship with Toyota is helping us deliver more for our customers – whether they're on a long road trip or short commute," said Joe Mosele, vice president, Mobility & Internet of Things, AT&T Business. "Since the launch of WarnerMedia RIDE, passengers are enjoying their favorite animated friends with 'Looney Tunes', 'Tom & Jerry', and 'The Jetsons' as some of our most watched content."

The WarnerMedia RIDE is available now in the App Store and Google Play for all U.S. unlimited data plan subscribers. WarnerMedia RIDE is included at no additional cost for existing and new unlimited subscribers. The Toyota and Lexus Owner App download is available for iPhone or Android smartphones.

Toyota isn't the only company getting into the streaming game. Stellantis recently announced that select customers will be able to stream Amazon Prime TV programming in their new Jeep Wagoneers.

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The 2022 Toyota GR 86 is a revised version of the company's punchy sports car.

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Corporation

The 2022 Subaru BRZ has a new brother! The 2022 Toyota GR 86 has debuted, bringing with it much of the DNA also found in the Subaru, but with distinct Toyota looks inside and out, as well as unique tuning.

Despite sharing the same platform and being designed as part of a joint effort between the two companies, the GR 86 and BRZ have been designed to appeal to different customers. For its part, Toyota says that the GR 86 is "specially designed for sports performance, and provides direct and satisfying driving performance of the highest order". Not that the Subaru isn't.

The Toyota GR 86 and Subaru BRZ is nearly identical.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Corporation

As is natural with a co-developed car, the GR 86 and BRZ look extremely similar on the outside. Their noses are slightly different thanks to changed-up grilles (the GR 86 gets a GR-specific Functional MATRIX Grille) and air intakes. Toyota's has splice-like intakes that are reminiscent of what you'll find on the Prius and Avalon. Side sill spoilers help complete the motorsports-influenced look.

The two cars have almost the same dimensions as their predecessors. Their positioning on the road is designed to allow a lower center of gravity and enhance turning performance. This makes the small sports car particularly agile. The car's weight comes in just a smidge under 2,800 pounds.

Its body features aluminum roof panels and fenders. The front seats and mufflers have be redesigned for weight loss. Body rigidity has increased in the new model, which aids in stability on the road, as does the car's MacPherson suspension up front and double-wishbone rear suspension.

The front-engine, rear-wheel drive car shares an engine with the BRZ as well. The new 2.4-liter four-cylinder power plant is an upgrade from the 2.0-liter of old. The engine is capable of 228 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque (figures that mirror the Subaru). Its power cuts acceleration off the line to 60 mph down to 6.3 seconds from 7.4 seconds.

2022 Toyota GR 86

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Corporation

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In Japan at least, Toyota will offer the car with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. U.S. engine and transmission info has yet to be finalized.

The interior of the BRZ and GR 86 are nearly identical. The biggest change is Toyota's infotainment screen and a 7-inch TFT driver information screen that features a unique GR 86 opening sequence. Photos from the two companies show that Toyota offers orange or red carpeting in their car while Subaru sticks to black.

All GR 86 and BRZ cars come standard with Subar's EyeSight Driver Assist Technology. The system is a suite of safety features that includes adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and pre-collision braking and throttle management.

This isn't the last we'll see of the Toyota-Subaru partnership. The companies are committed to remaining allies and deepening their relationship.

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