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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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

Bruce Pascal is one of the most devoted Hot Wheels collectors on the planet.

Photo courtesy of Bruce Pascal

The first Hot Wheels arrived in stores in 1968 and it wasn't long until they became the number one toy. Bruce Pascal was seven years old at the time and remembers the toy immediately becoming popular with his circle of friends.

"It's hard to explain the craze today, but Hot Wheels was huge. All of my friends were saving up to buy all the Hot Wheels they could," Pascal said.

While he was growing up, Pascal, like kids across the country, kept his Hot Wheels in a cigar box. As he grew up, the cigar box gathered more dust, sitting on a shelf for 30 years until Pascal rediscovered the collection in 1999.

Volkswagen Beach Bomb Hot Wheels The pink Volkswagen Beach Bomb is the most sought-after Hot Wheels car in the world. Photo courtesy of Bruce Pascal

"That excited feeling I had as a boy was rekindled instantly," said Pascal. "My friend offered to pay me $200 for the cigar box. I declined and held onto them, but it was his offer that made me start researching the value of Hot Wheels and pursuing collecting as an adult."

His search became a bit obsessive. Pascal began calling other collectors, taking out newspaper ads, and even used a 1969 telephone book of Mattel employees to see if any former workers had rare toys they would be willing to part with for a price. He collected everything he could, including Hot Wheels memorabilia like blueprints, original drawings, sales brochures, and wood models.

His collection grew from that cigar box to thousands of Hot Wheels. Yet Pascal was not satisfied. He still had not found the one Hot Wheels vehicle that was alluding him, the most valuable Volkswagen ever produced - the pink Volkswagen Beach Bomb prototype.

The model was a bit of a folly. When VW and Hot Wheels initially created it, the car's narrow body and surf boards out the back window made the vehicle unable to stay upright when rolled. So, it was redesigned and the sides became more weighted and the surfboards were moved to the sides of the vehicle. This was the model that made it into production. The Beach Bomb was sold with a sticker sheet of flowers to decorate the vehicle, an offering that was very of its time.

Volkswagen Beach Bomb Hot Wheels There are only two of the pink models in existence.Photo courtesy of Bruce Pascal

The original prototypes with the surfboards out the back window are extremely rare, as only Hot Wheels employees had access to them. Of these prototypes, the pink ones are the rarest of all. There are only two known to be in existence.

"I already had heard about [the Beach Bomb] in purple, green, red, light blue and gold. I even had heard about an unpainted model," said Pascal. "But pink was extremely hard to find. Most Hot Wheels models were marketed to young boys, who the brand assumed didn't want to play with pink. They created just a few pink [Beach Bomb] models to market to their female audience."

Eventually, Pascal networked his way into purchasing both pink Beach Bombs models. He has since sold one of them to another friend and collector, but the one that is in the best condition has stayed with him.

Today, Pascal owns over 4,000 Hot Wheels models and about 3,000 pieces of memorabilia, but the pink Volkswagen Beach Bomb remains his most prized possession.

"I won't say how much I purchased it for," said Pascal, "but it is worth an estimated $150,000 today."

To help prevent sun damage, the Beach Bomb remains in a dark, Plexiglass case. Pascal displays the model in his personal museum in Maryland, where he gives private tours to other Hot Wheels enthusiasts. He has also loaned the model out to other automotive museums and events for display.

"I want other people to experience the Beach Bomb. I've found so much joy in learning about classic cars and Hot Wheels, and I hope I can spark some of that in other people. It's a treasure to find these rare models," Pascal said.

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As part of its CES presentation, General Motors showed off its future electric vehicles.

Photo courtesy of General Motors

General Motors has made no secret of the fact that they see the future of the company is electric. Their presentation at CES this year put their future products out there for public consumption, but hidden in the shadows. Let's turn up the brightness and take a peek at what is there.

Scroll down to the bottom of this article to see a lightened, clearer view of all the models.

GMC Hummer EV

General Motors EV preview CES 2021

Photo courtesy of General Motors

Front and center is the 2022 GMC Hummer EV. The Hummer EV is slated to have 1,000 horsepower, a 350-mile range, and a $112,959 price tag when it arrives at dealership lots in 2021. Other forthcoming Hummer variants are set to have unique powertrain setups and lower price points.

Cadillac Lyriq

General Motors EV preview CES 2021

Photo courtesy of General Motors

The 2023 Cadillac Lyriq debuted in prototype form mid-2020. When it comes to market, Cadillac expects the Lyriq SUV to offer drivers 300+ miles of all-electric range, luxurious accommodations, and the buyers choice of rear-wheel drive or performance all-wheel drive. The Lyriq will come with Super Cruise, the General Motors hands-free driving system that allows for 200,000 miles of hands-free highway driving and automated lane change.

Cadillac Celestiq

General Motors EV preview CES 2021

Photo courtesy of General Motors

In addition to showing the Celestiq here, Cadillac decided to show off its flagship electric car with some close ups. They don't give too much detail about the car, but we do know some interesting tidbits. Cadillac says that the car embodies their commitment to "reimagine what's possible in design and technology". The GM division will offer the Celestiq with a curated selection of hand-crafted materials and they've has hinted that there will be some customization options available for owners.

Chevrolet pickup

General Motors EV preview CES 2021

Photo courtesy of General Motors

We don't yet know if it will be called the Silverado, but a Chevrolet pickup truck that runs on all-electric power is on the way. It's been confirmed that the plan is for the truck to have a maximum 400-mile range (likely when it's not towing or hauling much weight). Originally slated for a 2025 debut date, indications are that GM is pushing to get the truck to market sooner.

Buick EVs

General Motors EV preview CES 2021

Photo courtesy of General Motors

In 2020, GM described the two new Buick models that are coming by 2023. They're both electric vehicles. The first, an SUV will be a model that offers "more conventional crossover proportion that maximizes interior space and cargo." The second is a Buick CUV that has "expressive proportions with a greater emphasis on form and athletic fashion." It looks like the SUV is on the right in the photo while the CUV is on the left.

"Mystery EV"

General Motors EV preview CES 2021

Photo courtesy of General Motors

What is this mystery EV? We know the Cadillac XT4 is getting an electrified brother so there's a chance that this could that. Brightening and zooming in on the picture appears to reveal an SUV-like body design. We'll just have to stay tuned.

... and now let's turn the lights on.

General Motors EV preview CES 2021

Photo courtesy of General Motors

Last year, General Motors divulged while models it plans to introduce by 2023, including a number of EVs. You can see that full list here.

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