Sustainability

10 numbers prove that General Motors is serious about sustainability

General Motors is moving forward with a global sustainability plan.

Photo by Paula Daniëlse/Getty Images

The annual General Motors sustainability report is out. It focuses on the successes of 2019 as well as the path forward. GM, the parent company of the Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cruise, and Cadillac brands, among others, has been very public with its push toward sustainability in recent years. New numbers released by the company prove that the efforts are paying off.

2.2

General Motors has invested $2.2 billion into its Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant. Built on the site of the original Dodge factory, the plant was producing the Cadillac CT6, Chevrolet Volt, Buick LaCrosse, and Chevrolet Impala. In May 2020, the plant began retooling to become GM's first planet dedicated exclusively to electric vehicles. In the future, the company plans to make the Cruise Origin, GMC Hummer EV, and Cadillac Escalade EV there. Once retooling is complete, the plant will support 2,200 jobs.

5

For five consecutive years, General Motors has been the only automaker on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) for North America. That index is comprised of sustainability leaders, as identified by RobecoSAM, a specialist in sustainability investing, that includes invited members who are then ranked and divided into submarkets and by region. 2019 marked the first time that GM had been named to the DJSI World Index, which is comprised of the leaders from a variety of regions.

DJSI represents the top 20 percent of the largest 600 North American companies inn the S&P Global BMI based on long-term economic, environmental and social criteria.

9

General Motors has been named a U.S. EPA Energy Star Partner of the Year -Sustained Excellence in Energy Management making it nine years that it earned this honor. In its annual announcement of Energy Star Partners of the Year in April, 191 companies garnered awards. According to the EPA, "in 2018 alone, Energy Star and its partners helped Americans avoid nearly $35 billion in energy costs."

20

General Motors has committed $20 billion in capital and engineering resources toward the development of electric and autonomous vehicle programs between 2020 and 2025. A major step in that direction was the debut of the Ultium battery and new flexible vehicle architecture earlier this year, which has already resulted in a partnership with Honda.

46

Part of sustainability is not having vehicles or parts go to junk yards. A way to quell this is to fie tune safety technology, which is inherently designed to prevent crashes. General Motors vehicles that are equipped with Automatic Emergency Braking (or Forward Automatic Braking) with Forward Collision Alert saw a 46 percent reduction in rear-end crashes according to a study conducted in partnership with the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.

The technology was first applied to a vehicle in 2004. In 2016, the company committed to making forward collision alert and automatic emergency braking standard on virtually all new light vehicles by 2022.

50

By 2030, 50 percent of the parts used in General Motors vehicles will be made with sustainable materials. This is the result of a partnership between GM and its suppliers. Ford has also taken strides to make more sustainable parts, including using recycled coffee beans from McDonalds to create car parts.

70

GM's new Ultium battery is made from nickel-manganese-cobalt-aluminum chemistry. This results in a reduction in the use of combalt by 70 percent. Cobalt mining is an extremely dirty process that frequently uses child labor. The chemistry has been developed in partnership with LC Chem, but is proprietary for GM.

100

By 2030, 100 percent of all GM-owned facilities in the U.S. will be powered by renewable energy. This includes the company's Spring Hill, Tennessee plant, which is slated to be run exclusively on solar power by 2022. GM aims to have their global facilities follow suit by 2040.

100

For the third consecutive year, GM has made 3BL Media's 100 Best Corporate Citizens list. The list recognizes outstanding environmental, social and governance transparency and performance among the 1,000 largest U.S. public companies. 3BL Media has represented some of the largest companies on the planet including Morgan Stanley, General Mills, UPS, Pepsico, GM, and CVS Health.

500

GM was included on the S&P 500 ESG Index this year. It was launched in 2019 and recognizes strong performance in environmental, social and governance factors.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The initial allotment of 646 ISVs will now begin heading to their assigned bases and regiments.

Photo courtesy of GM Defense

General Motors isn't just about electric vehicles, massive family haulers, driverless technology, and trucks. They're also in the defense business. Today, GM Defense LLC, a subsidiary of General Motors, delivered its first Infantry Squad Vehicle (ISV) to the U.S. Army.

In June, the military awarded GM a $214.3 million contract to manufacture 649 ISVs with an additional authorization for up to 2.065 over eight years. This is the first major award and delivery for GM Defense since it was reestablished as a subsidiary in 2017.

"One hundred and twenty days from contract award to delivery is a significant milestone, and I am very proud of the team for this accomplishment," said David Albritton, president of GM Defense. "We're leveraging General Motors' engineering prowess and immense manufacturing capabilities to bring transformative solutions to the military vehicle market. Our initial success with the ISV shows our commitment to our customer and highlights our unique right to win in the military mobility market."

GM Defense's Infantry Squad Vehicle for U.S. Army

Photo courtesy of GM Defense

The ISV is a light and agile all-terrain troop carrier. It's designed to transport a nine-soldier infantry squad and their equipment in a variety of theaters. It is based on the midsize truck architecture of the 2020 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2. Ninety percent of its parts are off-the-shelf from GM commercial models, including Multimatic dual spool-valve dampers and Chevrolet Performance suspension components.

GM has extensively tried the performance components, not just as part of the traditional equipment set of the Colorado ZR2 the average customer buys, but also in the Best in the Desert race series. This fits with the terrain the infantry frequently finds itself in. Most of the large scale conflicts the military has been involved with in the last two decades have been in areas of the world with desert climates and dirt-filled primitive landscape.

The model's comparatively low weight allows it to be slightly loaded from a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter. It is compact enough to fit inside a CH-47 Chinook helicopter.

All ISVs are powered by a 186-horsepower 2.8-liter Duramax turbo-diesel engine, which is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.

GM Defense has a teaming agreement with Ricardo Defense, which will lead the Integrated Product Support for the ISV, including technical manual development, new equipment training, provisioning, total package fielding and field service support.

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Chevrolet completely redesigned the Suburban for the 2021 model year.

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

At over 18-feet long, the 2021 Chevrolet Suburban is massive in stature. The redesigned-for-2021 Suburban is also one of the most technologically advanced SUVs to roll off any General Motors assembly line. The question is, is it any good?

Yes. There is no point in burying the lede on this. The Suburban is the Chevrolet to have if you consistently need to carry six or more people and all of the gear associated with it. Need to take the kids to soccer practice? No problem. Need to bring grandma and grandpa on the family road trip? No problem. Need to carry an entire high school marching band and their instruments? Easy peasy. A colleague even suggested that the rear seats are in a different ZIP code than the front seats.

2021 Chevrolet Suburban Premier The Suburban has grown for the 2021 model year.Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

But unlike Doctor Who's Tardis, the Suburban is just as big on the outside as it is on the inside. The Suburban's boxy shape highlights how functional the design is – maximizing interior space is key. A new front grille and headlight setup comes straight from the Chevy Silverado pickup truck. Massive wheels are needed just to fill out the wheel arches.

Around back, a power liftgate (standard as hands-free in LT and up trim levels) is flanked by new taillights and there's a real dual exhaust for the 5.3-liter V8 that comes standard on Suburban. A 6.2-liter V8 and a 3.0-liter Duramax diesel are also available. All the engine options are paired with GM's 10-speed automatic transmission.

While the Suburban never feels smaller than it is, it is nice to drive. The automatic's shifts are flawless in execution, and the 5.3-liter V8 sounds great on throttle. At nearly three tons, the Suburban isn't light, and the upgraded 6.2-liter V8 is worth the extra money if you're planning on towing or filling the Suburban with people consistently. There just doesn't feel like enough oomph with the lower-spec engine to really get the Suburban moving. The sweet spot might end up being the diesel, like it is with the Silverado, but that's not available for a few months.

2021 Chevrolet Suburban Premier The Suburban is appropriately appointed for its price point.Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

Magnetic Ride Control is standard on the Premier trim, and while it doesn't also include the air suspension of higher-spec models, it does a good job at smoothing out the bumps and imperfections of the road. Though the Suburban does feature a sport driving mode, at no point did I feel compelled to use it to get a leg up on the traffic around me during testing. Leave it to its natural devices the Suburban drives pretty well.

The Expedition drives a bit smaller than it actually is, and the available Pro Trailer Backup Assist is a godsend for someone inexperienced with towing. Depending on spec, you can tow up to 8,300 pounds with the Suburban. That's enough for a small boat or camper, making the SUV a solid rig for weekend getaways.

There's plenty of room in the second row for passengers or pups during a weekend getaway, or longer. The Suburban Premier test unit had captain's chairs in the middle row, so gaining access to the third row is easy. There is also a lever on the side of the second-row chairs that, if you press it down twice, fold ups the seats up and away. While most three-row SUVs skimp in the back, this thing is big enough to seat adults and still have room for lots of cargo (up 19 percent over the 2020 model). In the front, the tester had leather seats that were heated and ventilated that sufficiently performed their functions.

2021 Chevrolet Suburban Premier The Suburban Premier comes standard with a 10.2-inch infotainment touch screen.Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

In front of the driver, an 8.0-inch digital instrument display is flanked by two analog gauges. A 15-inch wide head-up display (the largest in its class) has full-color, high-res graphics that are easy to read. General Motors makes their digital rearview mirror available on the Suburban, which makes it easy to see what's behind you because without it, you see just your passengers or the rows of empty seats directly behind you.

Chevrolet's latest infotainment system runs the Premier model's 10.2-inch touch screen and is updated to include wireless connectivity for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. That means you can just toss your phone on the wireless phone charger and you're off. A surround view camera does help in parking, though you're still going to want to avoid tight spots in city centers due to the overall size of the Suburban.

The test vehicle was black, making it look like a Secret Service transport for the President of the United States. And after a week in the new Suburban, it's easy to see why they prefer this SUV. The way that the Suburban uses its space is impressive. It maximizes interior cargo and passenger capacity. It's more practical in every row than a comparable Ford Expedition Max, and the V8 delivers better power than the Ford's twin-turbo V6.

2021 Chevrolet Suburban Premier The 2021 Suburban has 19 percent more cargo room than the previous edition.Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

You know if you need a vehicle this size, and if you do, the Suburban is the way to go. Just opt for the larger V-8 engine and you'll have yourself a beast of a vehicle. The Premier trim is a nice sweet spot, too, with luxury features but without the opulence and price tag that comes with the High Country trim. The test model wasn't cheap at $74,080, but for big SUVs this is the one to get.

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