COVID-19

General Motors, Toyota workers in Texas to continue wearing face masks at work

San Jose Hotel engineering manager Rocky Ontiveros, 60, wears a Texas mask on March 3, 2021 in Austin, Texas. Gov. Greg Abbott announced a new executive order that will end the statewide mask mandate and allow businesses to reopen at 100 percent capacity on March 10, 2021.

Photo by Montinique Monroe/Getty Images

Reporting by Automotive News indicates that despite Texas Governor Greg Abbott's executive order lifting the mask mandate statewide and allowing businesses to begin operating at 100-percent capacity again, automakers aren't changing their tune.

This executive order rescinds most of the Governor's earlier executive orders related to COVID-19. The original orders were put in place as a response to rising COVID-19 cases, and related hospitalizations and deaths, in 2020.

The new order removes state regulations and allows private businesses and individuals to decide on their mask wearing protocol and habits. There are currently mask mandates in 35 states and the District of Columbia.

There are fallbacks in place. A release from the Governor's office states, "If COVID-19 hospitalizations in any of the 22 hospital regions in Texas get above 15% of the hospital bed capacity in that region for seven straight days, a County Judge in that region may use COVID-19 mitigation strategies. However, County Judges may not impose jail time for not following COVID-19 orders nor may any penalties be imposed for failing to wear a face mask. If restrictions are imposed at a County level, those restrictions may not include reducing capacity to less than 50% for any type of entity."

Toyota

Toyota, which has a factory in San Antonio, Texas told a reporter with Automotive News that they are looking into the move but don't anticipate any immediate changes to their mask-wearing protocol. Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Texas, Inc. employs 2,542 people and makes the midsize Tacoma and full-size Tundra pickup trucks.

The automaker as has its North American headquarters in Plano, Texas, a northern suburb of Dallas. That facility employs around 4,400 people, most of whom have been working remotely for the better part of a year.

"The early read is – no change for us," said Scott Vazin, Group Vice President and Chief Communications Officer for Toyota Motor North America, when approached for comment by Automotive News.

Toyota assembly plants traditionally offers tours of its facility to the general public. Due to COVID-19, plant tours have been suspended at all Toyota manufacturing facilities including those in San Antonio; Jackson, Tennessee; Blue Spring, Mississippi; and Troy, Missouri.

General Motors

General Motors (GM) has a big footprint in Texas. The company employs 8,133 people in the Lone Star State and works with 297 suppliers in the state across 13 facilities. Additionally, as of 2020, there are 588 GM dealership franchises in Texas.

The company's Arlington Assembly plant is home to every new full-size SUV in GM's product lineup sold globally: the Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe, GMC Yukon and Yukon XL, and the Cadillac Escalade. GM Financial is headquartered in Fort Worth and one of GM's IT Innovation Centers is located in Austin. Assembly plants get much of their power from wind energy harvested from Cactus Flats and Hidalgo wind farms.

There are GM Financial centers in San Antonio, Arlington, and Sugar Land; a customer service center in Austin; a parts distribution site in Fort Worth; GM Financial headquarters in Fort Worth; a commercial lending office and the South Central Regional Office are in Irving.

Patrick Morrissey, Director, Corporate News Relations at GM, told Automotive News, "We'll keep our COVID safety protocols in place to ensure we continue to protect our employees."

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The Bronze Edition model builds on the XLE trim.

Toyota

The Toyota Highlander entered its fourth generation for the 2020 model year, which brought sleek style, updated tech, and a premium-look interior. A new XSE trim joined the lineup for 2021, and for 2022, Toyota is adding a new hybrid-only Bronze Edition trim.

2022 Toyota Highlander Bronze Edition The Bronze Edition adds useful features, such as a hands-free power liftgate.toyota

The new Bronze Edition Highlander builds on the XLE trim with:

  • Rain-sensing wipers
  • Digital rearview mirror
  • Ambient interior lighting
  • Memory driver's seat with 10-way power adjustments
  • Hands-free power liftgate

Toyota notes that the Bronze Edition previews features that will show up with the greater 2022 Highlander release. Among them are the new Wind Chill Pearl color, which replaces Blizzard Pearl from the previous model, and height/tilt passenger seat adjustments.

2022 Toyota Highlander Bronze Edition The Highlander is a supremely comfortable SUV with room for the family.Toyota

The Highlander carries on into 2022 with a standard 3.5-liter V6 that makes 295 horsepower and 263 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and either front- or all-wheel drive. A Highlander Hybrid is available, which mates a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with two electric motors. Combined system output is 243 horsepower. With the V6 on board, the Highlander can tow up to 5,000 pounds.

2022 Toyota Highlander Bronze Edition The Bronze Edition is available for Highlander Hybrid models.Toyota

All 2022 Highlander models get Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+, which includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, road sign assist, full-speed adaptive cruise control, lane departure alerts, lane tracing assist, a sway warning system, and automatic high beams. Those features and the Highlander's excellent crash testing scores were good enough for the SUV to earn a Top Safety Pick + designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

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New luxury full-size SUV

All-new 2022 Lexus LX 600 will be here soon

The new LX will go on sale in early 2022.

Lexus

The Toyota Land Cruiser and Lexus LX are among the most revered off-road vehicles of all time. Even so, Toyota is cutting the Land Cruiser in the U.S. after the 2021 model year due to slow sales. We will see its twin, however, as the 2022 Lexus LX was just announced. The full-size SUV will go on sale in the first quarter of 2022 and will bring all two new trims, more intuitive tech, and updated but familiar exterior styling.

2022 Lexus LX The new LX gets a twin-turbo V6 instead of a big V8, and its new platform shaves weight while improving rigidity.Lexus

The 2022 Lexus LX 600 comes in five trims: Standard, Premium, Luxury, F Sport, and Ultra Luxury. The new Ultra Luxury trim cuts the number of seats to four by replacing the rear bench with a pair of plush reclining captain's chairs. A rear entertainment system and large rear center console complete the top-level trim. Also new for 2022 is the LX F Sport, which brings Lexus' sharp appearance package to the LX for the first time. The F Sport gets exclusive 22-inch wheels, aggressive exterior styling, and sport seats with unique color schemes.

The LX is powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 that produces 409 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with a ten-speed automatic transmission. The body-on-frame SUV rides on an all-new GA-F platform that Lexus says is 20 percent more rigid than that of the previous model. Lexus also carved 441 pounds out of the previous LX's platform weight.

2022 Lexus LX The LX is available in five trims, including a new top Premium Luxury model. Lexus

A new Active Height Control (AHC) system and adaptive suspension provide stability and a comfortable ride while retaining the LX's off-road capabilities. AHC allows the driver to select from three ride heights depending on the situation, and a low setting is available for entering and exiting the vehicle. Three wheel sizes are available, and the F Sport trim comes with a Torsen limited-slip differential.

Lexus updated the LX's cabin for 2022 with new infotainment system and a cleaner, more upscale design. A new dual-screen infotainment system is standard. The top 12.3-inch touchscreen handles audio and infotainment duties, while the lower 7.0-inch touchscreen is used for climate controls and related settings. The LX also gets Lexus' new infotainment software, which promises to be more intuitive and simpler than previous systems. Over-the-air updates will bring new features and update existing functionality, while voice controls can command audio, navigation, phone, and other vehicle settings.

2022 Lexus LX Ultra Luxury trim reduces seating capacity to four but makes the LX's cabin seriously plush.Lexus

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