Milestones

GM is the first automaker to pass 1 million Wi-Fi subscriptions, HBO Max coming to cars

General Motors has surpassed more than 1 million Wi-Fi subscribers.

Photo courtesy of General Motors

In a world where we're constantly connected to everyone and everything, there's no escaping that vehicles have now become more than just transportation. They're nearly equal parts connected device.

In September, General Motors became the first automaker with more than 1 million subscriptions to its Wi-Fi-enabled data services provided by AT&T. They hit this milestone just six years after launching 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot spots in models across their lineup in the U.S. and Canada.

Since that time, GM has integrated the communication device into a more vital role for customers. Its connectivity currently serves as a key component of OnStarCrisis Assist, which serves GM customers impacted by disasters. Earlier this year, approximately 180,000 drivers in the U.S. and Canada enrolled in Crisis Assist to help navigate the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

General Motors tablet Wi-Fi New General Motors SUVs offer streaming services rather than traditional entertainment stations for rear seat passengers.Photo courtesy of General Motors

Wi-Fi connectivity plans are most popular with owners of trucks and SUVs. In the 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, GMC Yukon, and Cadillac Escalade, traditionanl DVD player entertainment systems have gone by the wayside in favor of streaming services. Available now in the App Store and Google Play for all U.S. unlimited data plan subscribers, the WarnerMedia RIDE app brings a unique smartphone or tablet experience with access to video content from Bleacher Report, Cartoon Network, CNN, HBO, TBS, TNT, truTV, Warner Bros. Television as well as other WarnerMedia content.

Next year, GM and AT&T plan to add HBO Max to a unique premium bundle of streaming content to complement the WarnerMedia RIDE and in-vehicle Wi-Fi offering.

"Being a leader in connected vehicles means constant innovation, listening to customers, and taking an inclusive approach by partnering with others who bring great entertainment and customer experiences into our vehicles," said Santiago Chamorro, GM vice president of Global Connected Services. "One million data subscribers is much more than just a number. It represents countless road trips where kids aren't asking, 'Are we there yet,' and people using their vehicles as classrooms and home offices just to make life a bit smoother. We're motivated to empower even more people moving forward."

"Connectivity is at the heart of today's driving experience," said Joe Mosele, vice president, AT&T Global Business Solutions. "We are incredibly excited to bring a fast and reliable Wi-Fi experience to millions of GM customers combined with some of WarnerMedia's most iconic brands and content libraries for more entertainment on the go."

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A prototype of the 2022 GMC Hummer EV undergoes winter weather testing in Michigan.

Photo courtesy of GMC

All vehicles go through extreme weather testing. From the desert sands of the Arabian Peninsula and Mojave Desert to the freezing cold of Michigan's Upper Peninsula and Scandinavia's upper reaches, vehicles from concept to near-production.

During that testing, research and development team members are finding out if their power- and drivetrain components are properly functioning as they have designed them to, checking on calibration, and also discovering the hardiness of their work.

When it comes to electric vehicles, there are additional tests that play into it. Does the battery deplete too quickly? Is the battery able to handle the cold weather? Are the electric motors getting enough power?

GMC HUMMER EV | The Next Chapter youtu.be

It was this, and more, put to the test by General Motors engineers when they got behind the wheel of the 2022 GMC Hummer in the northern reaches of Michigan. While driving in sub-zero temperatures they tested the all-electric truck on various slippery surfaces, including snow, ice, steep and split-mu grades. Key tests include integrating its powerful all-wheel drive torque distribution with the traction control system, as well as calibrating and testing the electronic stability control system.

The video shows the Hummer EV looping a test track, using four-wheel steering to handle ice, and bumping its way over some mild snow piles. There's also a show of the suspension system absorbing the imperfections in the roadway, allowing the cab of the truck to remain stable.

There are some differences with the prototype truck seen testing here and the renderings of the model that were shown off by GMC at the truck's reveal. Specifically, the front end. Eagle-eyed enthusiasts will note that the headlights and the area between them is not as refined as it was in the original images.

At this point, it is unclear as to why the change has been made and whether or not it's permanent. Likely, it's just fascia that has been deleted for testing and will be replaced when the vehicle heads to production.

The 2022 GMC Hummer EV is slated to go into production this autumn. Find out more about the product rollout plan for the model here.

In the video, GMC also teases the coming of the GMC Hummer EV SUV.

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The Audi E-Tron is an all-electric SUV.

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

Customers who purchase or lease an all-electric Audi E-Tron or E-Tron Sportback between March 2 to April 30, 2021 may be eligible for a subscription to Arcadia to power their vehicles with renewable energy. Here's how it works.

Arcadia connects renters and homeowners across the U.S. to wind and solar energy through utility data and billing technology. Users utilize renewable energy certificates to purchase their power from those renewable energy sources. Audi describes the process:

"In select markets within Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, and Rhode Island, Arcadia's platform connects qualifying customers to community solar projects in their area. These customers are allocated a portion of the energy output from their community solar projects and earn credits on their power bills as the projects generate power and add renewable energy to their local grid."

Based on customer polling by Audi, 85% of E-Tron customers and 90% of E-Tron Sportback customers state that environmental impact is either "important" or "very important" toward purchase considerations.

Qualified customers who get one of those two vehicles can get a complementary subscription for up to five years. Participating Audi E-Tron and E-Tron Sportback customers may also be eligible to receive up to a $750 credit toward their electricity bill through the Arcadia platform with a subscription.

This isn't the first partnership between Audi and Arcadia. The company collaborated in 2018 and 2020 with similar initiatives.

Audi's E-Tron and E-Tron Sportback are assembled in Brussels, Belgium in a plant that is certified as carbon neutral. The automaker has set the goal of reducing vehicle-specific carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent by 2025 and is set to achieve carbon dioxide neutrality globally across the lifecycle of its vehicles by 2050.

Both E-Tron models are capable of charging from zero to 80 percent battery capacity in about 30 minutes using a public DC 150-kilowatt fast charger. The 2021 E-Tron and E-Tron Sportback have EPA-estimated full-charge ranges of 222 and 218 miles, respectively.

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