Space

General Motors, Lockheed Martin join forces to create NASA's next lunar terrain vehicle

General Motors and Lockheed Martin will design a prototype of a vehicle that's capable of traversing Mars.

Photo courtesy of General Motors

Toyota and Hyundai aren't the only automakers getting into the extra terrestrial mobility game. A new partnership between Lockheed Martin and General Motors will develop the next generation of lunar vehicles to transport astronauts to the surface of the Moon.

NASA's Artemis program has plans to send Americans back to the moon. Like the military did when they asked for an off-road-worthy transport vehicle for combat support use in the early 1940s, NASA is asking the automotive and aeronautics industry to develop a Lunar Terrain Vehicle (LTV) to enable astronauts to explore the lunar surface father than ever before. The Apollo rovers only ventured 4.7 miles.

Lockheed Martin brings a 50-year history of working with NASA on a variety of deep-space human and robotic spacecraft, such as NASA's Orion exploration-class spaceship for Artemis, to the table. The company's crafts and systems have been to every planet in the solar system.

Lockheed Martin General Motors Partner to Develop Next-Generation Lunar Rover www.youtube.com

"This alliance brings together powerhouse innovation from both companies to make a transformative class of vehicles," said Rick Ambrose, executive vice president, Lockheed Martin Space. "Surface mobility is critical to enable and sustain long-term exploration of the lunar surface. These next-generation rovers will dramatically extend the range of astronauts as they perform high-priority science investigation on the Moon that will ultimately impact humanity's understanding of our place in the solar system."

General Motors, which first worked with NASA during the Apollo missions and helped develop the Apollo Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV), that was used on Apollo 15-17 missions, is bringing its electric battery and autonomous vehicle technology know-how to the partnership.

"General Motors made history by applying advanced technologies and engineering to support the Lunar Rover Vehicle that the Apollo 15 astronauts drove on the Moon," said Alan Wexler, senior vice president of Innovation and Growth at General Motors. "Working together with Lockheed Martin and their deep-space exploration expertise, we plan to support American astronauts on the Moon once again."

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Honda notified dealers of upcoming supply cuts.

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Honda, like all major automakers today, is truly a global operation. Though it produces plenty of vehicles here in the United States, many of the components it relies on for manufacturing come from elsewhere in the world. That means Honda, like the other auto giants, needs its global supply chain operating smoothly in order to prevent disruption. Unfortunately for Honda dealers and potential customers, disruption is what's about to happen. The automaker recently sent a letter to its dealers, forecasting reduced vehicle supply in the coming weeks.


2021 Honda Ridgeline No. 19 - Honda Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc


The dealer letter, posted to the Civic XI forum and fan site, was dated August 25 and confirmed by a dealer upset with the development, according to Automotive News. In the letter, Honda cites the ongoing pandemic and microchip shortages as major factors impacting its production efforts. Total shipments to dealers could be cut by up to 40 percent, but not all models will be affected to the same degree.

The letter noted that supplies of the Pilot and Passport SUVs will hold steady, and shared that production of the Civic hatchback is on schedule. However, the situation is fluid and could change at any time, so there's a chance that timelines could speed up or slack off as necessary.


2022 Honda Pilot Some models will see more cuts than others.Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc


Honda is just the latest in a long line of automakers struggling to keep pace with demand in the face of several converging global crises. In an effort to keep vehicles rolling out of factories, General Motors has implemented selective feature cuts in some of its new vehicles, such as the removal of engine start/stop tech from some trucks and SUVs. Earlier this month, Ford Motor Company told Mustang Mach-E buyers to expect delays of at least six weeks as it grapples with the chip shortage, and will temporarily reduce production capacity at a few of its plants.

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Biden will target 50 percent of all vehicle sales for EVs by 2030.

Ford

In the last several months, we've seen automakers from all corners of the globe commit to some degree of electrification by the end of the decade and beyond. That includes the American Big Three: Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and Stellantis (Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, others). Today, President Joe Biden plans to throw his weight behind these efforts by signing an executive order that sets a goal of pushing the sales of zero-emissions vehicles to half of all vehicle sales in the U.S. by 2030.

Biden's target is not legally binding, but the industry is already jumping on board. In a joint statement, Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis confirmed that they aim to hit an EV sales volume of 40-50 percent annually. It's worth noting that the President's 50 percent goal and the automakers' sales targets also include plug-in hybrid vehicles, which still use a traditional gasoline engine.


Jeep PHEV The target also includes plug-in hybrid vehicles, which still use gas engines.Jeep


Auto unions and dealers are not opposed to the ambitious roadmaps laid out by the Big Three, but both have differing views on what is essential and how things will ultimately play out. While aware of the goals, the UAW is focused on wage growth and the preservation of jobs and benefits. It feels that an increase in EV production volume must happen here in the U.S. to include good-paying American union jobs.

Dealers, to a degree, are supportive of the goals but skeptical of their ultimate success. Some feel that electric vehicles do not present the earth-shattering shift in functionality and usability that other new products, such as smartphones, did in different industries. Regardless of concerns and skepticism, it appears that automakers are going all-in on the shift to electrification, so we're bound to see a wealth of new battery-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in the next few years.


GM battery facility rendering Automakers are pledging billions to increase EV and PHEV production volume.GM

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