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.

General Motors has stepped in and utilized its Warren transmission plant for face mask production.

Photo courtesy of General Motors

General Motors launched the project to produce face masks at scale on Friday, March 20, amid increasing pressure from the Trump administration to step up like Ford and FCA had. By next week, the automaker plans to deliver the first 20,000 masks to frontline workers.

"Our team began looking at ways we could quickly utilize our talents and resources to help in the shared fight against COVID-19," said Peter Thom, GM vice president, Global Manufacturing Engineering. "Working around the clock, our team rallied with incredible passion and focus to come up with a plan to produce masks that will help protect the women and men on the front lines of this crisis."

2020 face mask coronavirus production General Motors worked to create a clean environment for mask production. Photo courtesy of General Motors

How did it all come together? Here's a breakdown of the timeline of six days, 23 hours, 30 minutes, in GM's own words.

March 20-26, 2020

At 3 p.m. on Friday, March 20, the core team assembled for the first time, kicking off the project and starting the timer.

"Because we wanted to move fast, the team set an incredibly aggressive goal: To have the production line up and running tests within a week," said Thom.

More than 30 engineers, designers, buyers and members of the manufacturing team were asked to help with product development, sourcing materials and equipment, and planning the production process.

"The first people we called were those who work with fabric vehicle components," said Karsten Garbe, GM plant director, Global Pre-Production Operations. "In a few days, the company's seat belt and interior trim experts became experts in manufacturing face masks."

2020 face mask coronavirus production The company's interior and trim experts had to quickly pivot to working with new materials. Photo courtesy of General Motors

The team sourced the necessary raw materials by leveraging GM's existing supply chain. These materials include metal nose pieces, elastic straps and blown, non-woven fabric filter material. Simultaneously, GM collaborated with JR Automation in Holland, Michigan and Esys Automation in Auburn Hills to design and build the custom machinery needed to assemble the masks.

For the project, the team selected the ISO Class 8-equivalent cleanroom at GM's manufacturing plant in Warren. Work began at the Warren facility by removing existing equipment from the cleanroom. The team cleared approximately 31,000 square feet to accommodate the mask production lines. Crews then installed new electrical service lines to power the production equipment and assembly stations.

2020 face mask coronavirus production Production will begin next week and within two weeks ramp up to 50,000 masks per day, with the potential to increase to 100,000 per day. Photo courtesy of General Motors

With the site cleared and prepped, production equipment and materials were then delivered to the Warren facility. Crews worked around the clock to install equipment and stage the production line. The team then tested each step in the production process, looking for opportunities to improve quality and production speed.

March 27, 2020

At 2:30 p.m. on Friday, March 27, the project team had their first production-made mask in their hands.

"Not only did the team make their goal, but they over-delivered," said Thom. "They actually beat our deadline, running the first mask through the equipment 30 minutes ahead of target. We're excited because this means we're even closer to being able to protect the healthcare teams who are working tirelessly to save lives."

March 30, 2020

The projected production volume is just as aggressive as the project's timeline. By Monday, March 30, more than 2,000 masks were produced by teams working through the weekend. These initial test samples will be used to ensure the quality standards are met. Once these quality measures are completed, the team expects to start producing masks for delivery early next week.

2020 face mask coronavirus production Engineers and technicians set-up and test the machines that will be used to manufacture Level 1 face masks Monday, March 30, 2020 at the General Motors Warren, Michigan manufacturing facility. Photo courtesy of General Motors

GM and the UAW will seek more than two dozen paid volunteers from Detroit-area plants to staff mask operations. In addition, GM has implemented a series of safety measures to protect these team members through physical distancing, enhanced on-site cleaning and pre-entry health screening.

Planned: April 8, 2020

The team expects to have 20,000 masks ready for delivery on Wednesday, April 8. Once the line is running at full speed, it will be able to produce up to 50,000 masks every day – or up to 1.5 million masks a month. GM is currently developing a plan for distributing the masks, including using some of this important safety equipment to protect employees in critical GM operations.

The 2021 Genesis G80 delivers the luxury and performance buyers are expecting.

Photo courtesy of Genesis Motors

In essence, Genesis started with the Hyundai Genesis, which has since evolved in to the Genesis G80. The midsize sedan's third generation debuted this week featuring many of the design elements seems in the 2020 Genesis G90 and 2021 Genesis GV80 to strike an elegant and upscale tone.

"The core of our brand lies within the G80," said William Lee, Executive Vice President and Global Head of the Genesis Brand. "This segment represents where we started and we're pleased that our newest offering achieves a perfect balance of discerning luxury and inspiring performance for our customers."

2021 Genesis G80 Genesis has put its new signature crest grille front and center on the model.Photo courtesy of Genesis Motors

At the front are the brand's signature crest grille and double-lined quad lamps. Two line graphics extend into the rear fenders and the tail lamps delivering a cohesive look. The car rides on 20-inch wheels and has chrome trim that runs from the front wheel area across the side sills and upward to the rear.

"The all-new G80 is the centerpiece of our lineup perfectly weighing athletic and elegant characteristics. This represents the clearest interpretation yet of the Genesis brand identity," said SangYup Lee, Senior Vice President, Head of Global Genesis Design. "Our goal is to offer unique, design-inspired experiences for our customers."

Built on a rear-wheel drive platform, the five-seater third-gen model is lower than the previous generation and available in all-wheel drive. The body is made up of 19 percent aluminum, reducing the weight of the car by 243 pounds versus the outgoing model which allows the car to be more fuel efficient and athletic in its performance.

2021 Genesis G80 The G80 comes in two powertrain options in the U.S.Photo courtesy of Genesis Motors

In the U.S., the G80 will be available in two powertrains: a turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder that produces 300 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque, and a turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 that yields 375 horsepower and 392 pound-feet of torque.

Like the larger G90, the G80 focuses on the human experience, maximizing efficiency of function rather than overwhelming its occupants with high-tech features. That doesn't mean that it's low-tech. Its A-pillar has been minimized to deliver as much of a panoramic view out the front as possible. The steering wheel is designed to continue that openness, as are slim air vents and minimum number of buttons and switches on the center stack.

Head- and legroom has increased in the model by lowering the second row. There are leather seating surfaces, soft-touch materials, and open pore wood finishes throughout the cabin. Buyers can opt for a 12.3-inch instrument cluster and 14.5-inch infotainment touch screen.

2021 Genesis G80 The rear of the car features a sloping roofline but has more headroom for back seat passengers than the 2020 model.Photo courtesy of Genesis Motors

Genesis has improved insulation and employed sound-reducing innovations to keep road and engine noise at bay more now than before. The car's electronically controlled suspension reduces the impact of the terrain on the car by using a camera at the front of the vehicle to read the road ahead and adjust accordingly. Lincoln and Rolls-Royce offer similar technology.

The Genesis version of Hyundai's Smart Park technology comes to the G80, allowing drivers to control their car via the key fob.

Additional luxury-level features available include a new HVAC system that allows the driver to adjust the heated/ventilated seats in the second row and the air conditioning mode/temperature independently of the first row, increasing the convenience for second row passengers, a Lexicon sound system, and mood lighting.

A full suite of safety technology includes advanced driver assistance systems including smart cruise control, highway driving assist, forward collision avoidance assist, and blind spot collision assist. Those active protection features help mitigate a series of movements that can help avoid collisions.

2021 Genesis G80 The interior of the model features luxury appointments including plush leather and open pore wood.Photo courtesy of Genesis Motors

The 2021 Genesis G80 will arrive on U.S. shores in the second half of 2020. Pricing has not yet been announced.