Sustainability

Trash to treasure: GM vehicles are made from products originally destined for a landfill

General Motors is putting post-consumer waste to good use.

Photo by Getty Images/Koron

When you think of recycling, you inevitably think of the beer can or bottle that you've thrown in the bin in your garage, or the newspaper or magazine that sits in a stack waiting to be added to that bin on garbage day. There usually isn't much thought given to what happens to the materials once the garbage truck pulls away from your curbside.

Even though you might not be putting much thought into it, others are. This includes finding new and innovative approaches to using the recycled materials in products that are going to market.

General Motors Spring Hill Plant GM's Spring Hill plant will be run on solar power by 2022. Photo courtesy of General Motors

General Motors, who keeps sustainable practices in focus as part of an ongoing company-wide initiative, is utilizing recycled materials in their vehicles. This in and of itself isn't particularly innovative. Half a decade ago, the use or soy in the seats and tomato skins in the trunk was a common talking point for Ford during vehicle launches.

GM has taken steps over the years to reduce waste. At their Bowling Green assembly plant, the paint-shop system is using limestone to capture overspray, a practice that eliminates more than 400 tons per year of paint sludge waste. The company's design team donates scraps of leather, vinyl, and synthetic suede to the College for Creative Studies in Detroit so that they may be used by fashion students. Corvette's leather leftovers go to Pingree, a Detroit business that employs veterans with meaningful work, where workers hand craft the leather into custom Corvette-branded accessories.

The GM Global Design Center in Warren, Michigan has its design team collect and clean clay that is left over from creating models, using metal detecting wands to remove any metal pins. In just one hour, six team members can completely strip one midsize vehicle model of salvageable clay. This clay recycling saved Mother Earth some strain and GM's pocket book about $1 million over a three-year period.

General Motors recycled car breakdown Photo courtesy of General Motors

GM is part of the Materials Marketplace, an initiative of the United States Business Council for Sustainable Development, that works to identify ways to reuse or exchange undervalued materials through an online database and establish circular supply chains. This is designed to lengthen product life cycles and lower the environmental impact of many stages of the manufacturing and design process.

The automaker is also putting recycled materials into its vehicles. Post-consumer nylon fiber has been used for window support brackets resulting in 3 million pounds of plastic being recycled. Recycled PC/PBT plastic has been made into license plate brackets while PC/ABS plastic has been crafted into radio brackets resulting in 375,000 pounds of plastic diverted from landfills.

According to Beverage Marketing Corp., a single-serve PET bottle weighs approximately 9.25 grams down 52 percent from the early 2000s. GM has recycled 100 million water bottles and used them to make wheelhouse liners. Other uses of recycled materials include 200,000 pounds of plastic diverted from landfills to make cowl vent grills, 5,000 tires taken out of the refuse pile to be used to make ultra capacitor barrier shields.

General Motors Spring Hill Assembly Plant Photo courtesy of General Motors

GM continues to work on sustainability with its plants and suppliers. It has recently won awards for its initiatives and is set to hit another milestone in 2022 when the Spring Hill plant will switch over to solely solar power.

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Chevy recently dropped a load of specs and opened orders for the new Silverado EV.

Chevrolet

After months of teases and speculation, Chevrolet took the wraps off its 2024 Silverado EV pickup truck. The long-awaited electric truck lands with impressive range of up to 400 miles, plenty of power, and neat features that improve its ability to do "truck stuff." The $105,000 RST First Edition model sold out in 12 minutes, so we're here to ask the question: Would you line up to buy one?

2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV It's all about the screens in the RST First Edition model. Chevrolet

Chevrolet will offer the truck in two trims at launch: A fleet-oriented WT (work truck) model and a consumer-friendly RST First Edition model. Chevy says it will eventually offer a fleet model with 20,000 pounds of max towing capacity. The WT model will launch first with 510 horsepower and 615 pound-feet of torque, which adds up to a towing capacity of 8,000 pounds and 1,200 pounds of payload. The RST trim offers a Wide Open Watts (WOW) Mode that bumps power to 664 ponies and 780 pound-feet of torque, which is good for a 0-60 mph time of just 4.5 seconds.

The RST model offers advanced features to make daily driving easier for the everyday buyer, including four-wheel steering, automatic adaptive air suspension, a 17-inch touchscreen and 11-inch gauge cluster, a 14-inch head-up display, and Super Cruise with trailering capability. An available onboard generator system can produce up to 10.2kW of power for equipment such as worksite power tools or campsite gear.

2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV Preorders for the $105,000 RST First Edition sold out in just 12 minutes.Chevrolet

Both trucks come exclusively in crew cab format, and will offer an "eTrunk" where the engine bay would be in a traditional truck. The lockable, weatherproof compartment can carry a large suitcase, and adds to the Silverado EV's already impressive interior storage. The RST's center console can swallow more than seven gallons of gear, which is large enough to hold a small lunch cooler, according to Chevy. RST models are also available with GM's excellent Multi-Flex tailgate, but there's a new feature for the electric truck that its gas-powered counterparts don't get: A Multi-Flex Midgate that opens the space between the cab and bed for carrying longer cargo. Using the function won't interfere with use of the back seat, either, so the truck will still carry at least four people.

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The first Hummer EVs are rolling off the line.

GMC

After a year filled with delays and production issues, General Motors has a great reason to celebrate. The first GMC Hummer EV Pickups are rolling off the production line and will be in buyers' driveways soon. The first, VIN 001, was purchased at a Barret-Jackson auction back in March for $2.5 million, but the rest were sold at the EV's asking price, which starts at $110,295.

The Hummer EV comes as Chevrolet announces that orders will open for the Silverado EV in early January, and as Ford readies the F-150 Lightning for production. It also lands just as Rivian is getting its R1T pickups out the door, so we've moved from zero electric pickups to several in the span of just a few months.

GMC HUMMER EV PICKUP | Customer Deliveries Start Now youtu.be

The GMC Hummer EV offers several enticing features that include a four-wheel "CrabWalk" function for diagonal movement around off-road obstacles, adaptive air suspension, a Watts to Freedom (WTF) mode that allows the hefty EV to scoot from 0-60 mph in just three seconds, and Super Cruise, GM's hands-free driving system.

GMC sold out of the Edition 1 Hummer, but reservations for other models are still open. The vehicle is being built at GM's Factory Zero facility in Detroit-Hammtramck, and will be joined by the Silverado EV when its production commences. The plant saw a $2.2 billion renovation to produce EVs and is key to GM's early electrified successes.

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