COVID-19

GM's tradespeople switching from crafting show cars to creating healthcare equipment

General Motors has activated its skilled tradespeople to create personal protective equipment, like gowns that can be used in hospitals.

Photo courtesy of General Motors

Teams made up of metal, paint, trim, wood, mold, and plaster tradespeople at General Motors typically spend their days creating unique one-off vehicles like show cars. Now, they're spending their time assembling protective gowns and aerosol boxes at the Global Technical Center in Warren, Michigan as part of the automaker's response to the COVID-1 9 pandemic.

"Our team members are experts at solving problems on the fly and creating things from scratch," said Hart. "The dedication, abilities and spirit of collaboration from our skilled tradespeople has been humbling. They are working longer hours than ever on a voluntary basis to fulfill urgent requests from doctors, nurses and other professionals on the front lines."

GM employees are designing personal protective equipment. Photo courtesy of General Motors

Workers from GM's color and trim departments have sewed samples of protective gowns made from old car covers that were distributed to local hospitals for evaluation. The final version of the gowns, which have been approved for use, have been made from Tyvek supplied by the Henry Ford Health System. They're lightweight (approximately two ounces), breathable, and protective.

While GM is designing gowns in-house, Ford has worked with its airbag supplier Joyson Safety Systems to create reusable gowns made from the material that is used to make Ford's airbags. Production of the personal protective equipment is anticipated to scale up to 100,000 gowns for the week of April 19. By July 4, Joyson Safety Systems will be able to cut and sew 1.3 million gowns, which are self-tested to federal standards and are washable up to 50 times.

Volkswagen is working with supplier Faurecia to produce masks and gowns for front-line workers. Faurecia is now able to make an estimated 250,000 masks and 50,000 gowns per week. Volkswagen earmarked the first run of the products to New York State's COVID-19 response efforts.

Last week, GM announced that its first ventilators, co-produced with Ventec Life System, were ready for shipment and in late March the company detailed its process of face mask design and production.

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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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