In-Car Tech

USB-A vs. USB-C ports: Answering questions you have about your car but forgot to ask

2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle interior with the new integrated Ultra console. A new LED light feature on the wireless charging system provides information on the charging status: a blue light indicates charging, red a foreign object detected and green signifies charging is complete.

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

If you're reading this, it's a safe bet that you own both a car and a smartphone. And, if I'm going to be presumptuous, it's likely that you have your smartphone in your car whenever you're driving somewhere and that you probably want to charge your phone when you're in your car.

But this isn't always an easy endeavor, especially if you have a brand new car. So here's a quick walkthrough of the various USB plugs you might find in your new car — as well as the various plugs you might find on your smartphone.

2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid The 2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid has only USB-A ports up front, alongside a wireless charging pad.The automaker labels these ports with their available charging power.Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc.

The standard rectangular USB that's available in most cars from the past ten years is called the USB-A outlet. It's the one that's particularly frustrating because you'll inevitably try to insert the plug upside down. It's pretty universal, and, depending on your car, will either provide just power or (more likely) will let you play music and other audio through the stereo system.

One thing to note is whether it's a "high-power" port or not. Some newer vehicles will output up to 2.4 amps from their port, while older (or cheaper) cars will provide much less power. It's even possible that, if you're using the GPS on your phone for example, it might not even offer enough power to actually charge up your phone.

The USB-A is the most common and universal plug — but there's something new that you'll be seeing more and more.

Newer vehicles (and newer computers) might have the newest and fanciest USB-C plug. It has rounded edges and is much smaller, more useful, and more powerful than the older USB-A plug.

2020 Toyota RAV4 Adventure The 2020 Toyota RAV4 Adventure hides its AUX ad USB-A ports below a labeled hatch in the center console.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

First, and perhaps most importantly, you'll never insert your cable upside down ever again — it works whichever way you plug it in, which is particularly useful. Second, it's capable of providing much more power to your device, charging it much, much faster than the USB-A port if your car supports it — and some USB-C outlets might even be able to power a laptop.

Regardless of which plug you have in your car, high-quality cables are essential and are extremely cheap. I prefer Anker's Powerline cables, and they come in a huge variety of colors, lengths, and types. If you have an iPhone, you can get a three-foot Anker USB-A to Lightning cable for under $10 each, and a USB-C to Lightning cable for a few dollars more than that. Spare cables are always a nice thing to have, and these are some of the best you can buy.

If you have an Android, things are slightly more complicated because there are a few different possibilities for what plug your phone might have. There are a few options, but double check which plug your phone has before you buy and you'll be prepared for whichever USB port your new car has!

Finally, there are adapters that allow you to go from USB-C to USB-A to use your old cables with the new-fangled outlets on the new car, but they're as much as a replacement cable would be, so you're better off just buying a new, high-quality cable for about ten bucks.

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Journalists gather around Jim Farley, then-Ford executive vice president and president of global markets, during the media days at the 2018 North American International Auto Show.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company has announced that Jim Farley will succeed Jim Hackett as the CEO of the company beginning October 1. Who is Jim Farley? AutomotiveMap takes a closer look at the man and his rise to the top of one of the most heralded automakers in the world.

The beginning

James D. “Jim" Farley Jr.'s history with Ford and the auto industry started long before he joined the company in 2007. The Argentina-born Farley's grandfather Emmet E. Tracy, was a worker at Ford in the company's early days, working at the company's Rouge River Plant beginning in 1914 when he was just 13 years old. Farley credits his grandfather for spurring his love of automobiles.

Jim Hackett Jim Farley CEO Outgoing CEO Jim Hackett and incoming CEO Jim Farley chart in front of an image of the employee card of Farley's grandfather, Emmet Tracy, an early Ford employee.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

When he was 10 years old, Farley had a paper route in Connecticut that included a local Ferrari distributorship. He says that he would spend hours there chatting up the Italian mechanics.

Tracy would eventually leave the Ford plant to become a Ford dealer and own a Ford supplier plant. Farley worked at that plant one summer when he was 15. The summer before that, he says he spend working at a shop rebuilding car engines. He would eventually buy a '66 Ford Mustang with a blown engine, restoring it for himself, complete with a 289 V8.

Farley is a graduate of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. He earned a bachelor's degree In economics and computer science. Farley got his MBA from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He put himself through school by working at a Santa Monica vehicle-restoration shop that was run by former Formula One champion Phil Hill - Hill & Vaughn on Second Street.

Jim Farley Ford 10 Millionth Mustang Ford (and Farley) celebrated the production of the 10 millionth Mustang at its Dearborn headquarters and its Flat Rock Assembly Plant, including flyovers from three WWII-era P-51 Mustang fighter planes and Mustangs produced for more than five decades parading from Dearborn to Flat Rock.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The Toyota years

He started his automaker career at Toyota, a move that he says some of his family members resented. However, it was Farley's grandfather who encouraged him saying. Farley told it to Automotive News like this: “He said, 'You should go to Toyota. It's the best car company for now. You can come back to Detroit.'"

And so he did. Farley joined Toyota in 1990 as part of the company's strategic planning department. He moved through marketing and product positions in the U.S. and Europe eventually serving as the man responsible for the successful launch and rollout of the Scion brand.

He went on to hold roles including group vice president of Toyota Division marketing and was responsible for all Toyota Division market planning, advertising, merchandising, sales promotion, incentives and internet activities. He also was the group vice president and general manager of Lexus, responsible for all sales, marketing and customer satisfaction activities.

Toyota Scion tC Jim Farley, working in his then-role as Scion vice president, poses with the new tC Sports Coupe at the North American International Auto Show January 5, 2004 in Detroit, Michigan.Photo by Getty Images

Farley did make it back to Detroit during those days, every January as the North American International Auto Show kicked off. It was during that annual pilgrimage that Farley would visit his grandparents' graves. “"I wipe off the snow, if it's snowing, and I talk about my life," Farley said, before pausing and turning his head to the side. "I'm going to get really emotional — son of a b----, I'm not supposed to do that as an executive — anyway, it's the real deal for me. It's not about money," Automotive News reported in 2007.

The switch to Ford

Farley and his wife Lia are the parents of three children. The couple adopted a baby girl in 2007 before Lia gave birth to their son. When he took his first job with Ford as marketing chief in 2007, it was on the heels of a difficult time for the family that had seen his wife spend the last three months of her pregnancy in the hospital as Farley, with the help of neighbors, took care of their daughter and finalized his deal with Ford, Automotive News reported at the time.

While Farley got up and running at Ford, he would travel back home to California on the weekends to be with his family before finally settling them all in Michigan once his daughter's adoption was finalized. Even in 2007, his commitment to Ford was strong, saying at the time, "I'm going to be there forever. I didn't trade in my life in Santa Monica to move around every two years. I'm a car guy. There's only two car companies I really like, and I'm on the second one."

Jim Farley 2013 New York Auto Show Jim Farley, serving in his then-role as Ford executive vice president of Global Marketing, Sales and Service and Lincoln, discusses the consumer trends and demographic shifts that are reshaping the U.S. auto industry at the 2013 New York International Auto Show.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Big moves at Ford

After two years on the job at Ford, Farley was appointed group vice president, global marketing and Canada, Mexico and South America. He had added responsibility for Ford's operations in Canada, Mexico and South America in September 2009.

In August 2010 when Farley was appointed to lead global marketing sales and service, it marked the first time Ford had a single global leader for Marketing, Sales & Service. He had the added role of he senior global leader for Lincoln from December 2012 to August 2014. It was during his time as executive vice president of Global Marketing, Sales & Service at Lincoln where the brand began its turnaround, setting the course for the company to decliner the types of vehicles it is offering today. He also lead Lincoln's introduction to China.

Lincoln Aviator Launch 2018 New York Auto Show During the New York International Auto Show in 2018, Jim Farley speaks in front of the just-revealed Lincoln Avaitor.Photo courtesy of Lincoln Motor Company

From 2015 to 2017, Farley served as executive vice president and president, Ford Europe, Middle East and Africa. His tenure included milestones of record profitability, record margins, and increased sales.

In use 2017 he was named Executive Vice President and president, Global Markets, for Ford Motor Company. Company CEO Jim Hackett tapped Farley to be the president of New Businesses, Technology and Strategy in April 2019. In that role, he was tasked with helping the company determine how to capitalize on powerful forces reshaping the industry – such as software platforms, connectivity, AI, automation and new forms of propulsion.

Jim Farley Ken Block LAAS Fiesta launch Jim Farley, then-Group Vice President, Marketing, Sales and Service, Ford Motor Company with Action sports superstar, Ken Block after he drove his Gymkhana Ford Fiesta at Universal Studios on the eve of the Los Angeles Auto Show.Photo by Sam VarnHagen, courtesy of Ford Motor Company

In February of this year, Farley was named chief operating officer of Ford Motor Company, taking over for Joe Hinrichs and solidifying his position as the next CEO of the company. In a press conference on August 3, 2020, Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford said that the board talked about looking at external candidates for CEO, but they never actually did because Farley was the obvious choice.

What type of person is Farley? A story in the Detroit Free Press earlier this year said this of him:

“Jim Farley is the guy who prefers to be dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, spending time in a garage wrenching on classic Mustangs and vintage motorcycles. He respects men and women who have oil-stained clothes, busted knuckles and grease under their nails. He appreciates people who do engine and body work themselves.“

He's not a Man who spends his time chatting with old pals at the country club over a game of golf. To achieve relaxation, he races his 1965 Ford GT40 around tracks far and near.

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General Motors is investing heavily in EV charging infrastructure while preparing to launch its next-generation electric vehicle fleet.

Photo courtesy of General Motors

General Motors and EVgo will be adding upwards of 2,700 new fast chargers to the U.S. electric vehicle (EV) charging landscape over the next five years. The move is considered a crucial step to widespread EV adoption.

Currently, EVgo has just 800 fast chargers in the U.S. Despite that number, it is still the leading public fast charging provider in the country. All chargers will be able to power up four vehicles simultaneously and have 100-350-kilowatt capabilities.

The chargers will be powered by 100 percent renewable energy. In 2019, EVgo became the first North American charging company to contract for 100 percent renewable energy to power its chargers. GM has a sustained commitment to renewable energy that extends from production to powering its facilities.

General Motors EVgo EVgo currently has 800 fast chargers in the U.S.Photo courtesy of General Motors

GM's Spring Hill, Tennessee plant will run on strictly solar energy by 2022.

"We are moving quickly to bring new EVs to market that customers will love," said Mary Barra, GM Chairman and CEO. "We know how important the charging ecosystem is for drivers, one that includes access to convenient and reliable public fast charging. Our relationship with EVgo will bolster the public fast charging network available to EV customers ahead of increased market demand and reinforce our commitment to an all-electric, zero-emissions future."

The chargers will focus on both cities and suburbs and provide access points for EV drivers who live in multi-unit homes and rental homes who aren't able to install a home charger or those who do not have access to workplace charging.

Customers typically spend 15-30 minutes at a fast charger as opposed to Levels 1 and 2 charging facilities.

These 2,700 new chargers are in addition to the 3,500 that the automaker plans to add at company facilities.

The first of the new charging stations is slated to come online in 2021.

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