Ride Sharing

This is the self-driving, all-electric Cruise Origin brought to you by GM

The Cruise Origin self-driving vehicle has been revealed.

Photo courtesy of Cruise LLC

Cruise has passed on a steering wheel, a rearview mirror, and pedals in its new Origin electric vehicle. The ride share mobility solution debuted last night in San Francisco was co-developed by the arm of General Motors in cooperation with Honda.

In addition to the self-driving aspect of the news, the biggest innovation with the vehicle is that it is nothing like the any other GM alternative fuel mobility solution. There's not really speck of Bolt in the design.

It's actually more like the Navy shuttle than the Bolt, resembling the most modern of train cars. Its exterior is smooth and not aerodynamic. Its sliding doors open wide via a sliding mechanism rather than outward like a traditional car door. There's a display area featuring a number on the outside of the vehicle to help with rider-vehicle identification.

The Origin is the same size as a full-size sedan but seats six in a different configuration than the typical car. It has a 78-inch height, which means it can still park in most garages.

Inside, the vehicle seats six on two sets of three seats that share a large space for legroom and bags.

What's more notable is what the Origin is lacking. There's no driver's seat, pedals, steering wheel, windshield wipers, gauges, nor rearview mirror. Because there's no driver, there's no need for that. Cruise has said that the vehicle features SAE Level 4 autonomy. In layman's terms, that means that a computer controls all the functionality of the vehicle and is contained within its service area only by things like a speed limiter or geofence.

Its software has been co-developed by GM and Honda.

Cruise hasn't divulged powertrain or range information.

In January, the federal government released a new set of guidelines concerning self-driving vehicles.

Under Cruise's plans, no individual will own the Origin. The ride sharing vehicles will be summoned via an app and offer ride service to anywhere in the vehicle's service area. The defined regions of the service area and fares associated with a ride have yet to be announced.

So, it's just an app-controlled electric short bus, right? Yes.

Cruise says that the model is ready for production and plans to that end will be announced shortly.

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Discontinued sedan

Volkswagen nixing Passat after 2022 model year

Racing Green Metallic is one of four exclusive colors for the car.

Volkswagen

After five decades on sale in the U.S., Volkswagen is pulling the plug on the midsize Passat. The explosion of SUVs' popularity and the need to shift production power to electric vehicles are behind the decision, which will take place after the 2022 model year. The cars have been built at the automaker's Chattanooga, TN plant since 2011, but the facility is being repurposed as VW's North American hub for electric vehicle assembly.

Volkswagen is giving the car one last hurrah, however, in the form of the Passat Limited Edition. The car features 18-inch wheels, LED headlights with an Advanced Front Lighting System, and an easy-open trunk. Inside, the cars come with sport seats wrapped in Vienna leather, memory seating, a Fender Premium Audio System, parking assistance, and parking sensors.


2022 Volkswagen Passat Limited Edition Each car gets a special model tag with its limited production number.Volkswagen


Only 1,973 of the cars will be built, and it will only be sold in four colors, each with its own limited production numbers that have special meaning for the Passat:

  • Aurora Red Metallic with Titan Black interior: 411 units to represent the original vehicle production code
  • Racing Green Metallic with Mauro Brown interior: 423 units to commemorate the Chattanooga 423 area code
  • Pure white with Mauro Brown interior: 524 units to signify the Chattanooga plant's May 24 opening date
  • Platinum Great Metallic with Titan Black interior: 615 units to signify six generations of imported Passats, one generation assembled in Chattanooga, and five decades of U.S. sales

Pricing for the 2022 Passat starts at $31,290, which includes a $995 destination fee. Adding Aurora Red Metallic drives the price up by an additional $395. Each car will receive a special number plate to designate its place in the limited production run.


2022 Volkswagen Passat Limited Edition The Passat Limited Edition gets several upscale features. Volkswagen

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Electric vehicle features

The VW ID.4 sounds futuristic

The ID.4 is VW's first electric crossover in the U.S.

VW

The Volkswagen ID.4 is finally here. The electric crossover offers compelling features, decent all-electric range, and a reasonable price. On top of all that, Volkswagen focused heavily on the electric experience with the ID.4, down to the sounds it makes in everyday operation.

Where many automakers seek to humanize electric vehicles with familiar gas engine sounds, Volkswagen hasn't bothered with any of that. Instead, the automaker's ID.4 electric crossover features several sounds that embrace the EV's place in the future of transportation.

On startup, drivers are greeted with a sound that Volkswagen says will alert them that the vehicle is ready to go. It's not at all unlike the flying saucer sounds heard in sci-fi movies decades ago, but it's a nice reminder of the ID.4's future-forward drivetrain.



In motion, VW gave the ID.4 what is known as an Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System, which helps alert people to the presence of a moving electric vehicle. Since the drivetrain doesn't make the same noises that a gas engine does, EVs can move almost silently at low speeds, so it's important to have some kind of warning sound.

Even the turn signal sounds received scrutiny in the ID.4's design, and while they're still fairly traditional, the sounds are subtle and pleasing overall. Beyond that, VW says it developed a library of sounds for typical vehicle control buttons and other functions that are exclusive to its electric vehicles. The goal, according to the automaker, is that the sound aligns with the vehicles' character, visual design, and features, and that people will be able to recognize a VW EV by its unique sound.

The ID.4 is just the first of several EVs that Volkswagen plans to release here in the United States. Larger family vehicles are on the horizon, and we may even see an electric revival of the legendary VW bus.

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