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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VW purchased the rights to the iconic Scout name and plans to make new EVs under the brand.

Volkswagen

Automakers bring back names and brands from the past all the time, but it's not every day that a major company purchases a brand name specifically for the purpose of reviving it. That's exactly what Volkswagen just did with Scout, the name of an ultra-popular off-road SUV that was built by International Harvester in the 1960s and 1970s.

As for the types of vehicles we'll see from the brand, we currently only have the renders to go on. The pickup truck and SUV both feature throwback styling that is reminiscent of the original Scout shapes. Beefy off-road tires and lifted suspension are the only other clues available in the drawings.

Volkswagen has its own EVs, and its other brands like Audi and Porsche have made significant progress with electric vehicles as well. That said, VW doesn't really have a solid off-road option from any of its brands at the moment, so the Scout purchase opens doors for the automaker in that arena.

The announcement sounds exciting, but we've still got plenty of time to wait before there's a Scout-branded EV on the roads. Volkswagen said the plan is to release vehicles by 2026, but it won't be sitting idle between now and then. The VW ID.4 is still very fresh and the automaker says it will launch a total of 25 new EVs in the U.S. by 2030.

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Lincoln will not make a performance variant to compete with Cadillac.

Lincoln

TheLincoln Navigator and Cadillac Escalade have been duking it out at the top of luxury SUV rankings for decades, but there’s one area of the Caddy’s development that Lincoln won’t touch. In a recent interview, a company executive told Ford Authority that it has no plans to create a performance variant of the Navigator to compete with the upcoming Escalade V from Cadillac.

2022 Lincoln NavigatorThe new Navigator features several upscale touches and excellent tech. Lincoln

That means the Navigator will stick with the powertrain it’s carried for years, which is a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine that makes 440 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque. It’s paired with a smooth ten-speed automatic and either rear- or four-wheel drive. While there’s more than enough power to get the hulking Lincoln moving, it’s not a powertrain that inspires excitement or engagement, and though beefy, it’s tuned much more for comfort and quietness than drama.

Though more than adequate, those specs are a far cry from the numbers we expect from the Escalade V. The full-size bruiser from Cadillac is expected to get a supercharged 6.2-liter V8, similar to the unit seen in the CT5-V Blackwing and Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. We don’t know power numbers yet, but the engine should deliver horsepower and torque numbers in the high 600s.

Cadillac Escalade VThe Escalade V will be massively powerful. Cadillac

That Lincoln is taking a different approach isn’t surprising. The automaker has already announced its intention to go all-electric, so pouring more time and resources into creating a performance gas-powered SUV isn’t in line with its goals. Company executives have also expressed a desire to avoid imitating rivals, so the decision to leave a performance Navigator behind is not surprising.

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