Google Adding Car Technology?

General Motor's Volt

GM & Google might have a new professional relationship: Chevy Volt

Google is already known as one of the most powerful internet search technology corporations. General Motors, also known more commonly as GM, is ranked as the largest US automaker. Seems pretty safe to say if the two came together for a creation, it would be pretty big in the automotive world. Well, that just might be the case very shortly. Though it is yet to be confirmed, these two power companies might just have a plan to upgrade technology in cars in a way that makes keyless entry look like a kindergartners’ toy.

It is reported by Motor Trend that GM is currently in talks with the search master in interest of using their Android operating system in its vehicles. If the he said, she said is indeed true, it is expected that a test run will first be placed in the upcoming Chevrolet Volt. For all those who love their Android phones or other smartphones, the app alone will probably have you heading to your local dealership once placed on the lot. With some naming it the “Volt app”, it is said that Google and GM will have a smartphone app that allows you to see where your cars battery life is at, monitor it’s charging status, unlock your car and (simply, of course) start your car.  

The Interior of GM's Volt

It is reported by Motor Trend that GM is currently in talks with the search master in interest of using their Android operating system in its vehicles

The perks of the car sans Google? This electric vehicle (uses electricity as its primary power source and gasoline as its secondary source) has many benefits, mainly energy diversification, reduced oil consumption, and reduced emissions. The Chevy Volt is said to travel up to 40 miles on one battery charge. Not to mention a daily charging of the Volt will only cost you roughly 80 cents and consume less electric energy annually than your own refrigerator. The once a day charge rate is about 80 cents. It is also reported to get 230 miles/gallon on city fuel economy and come with a flex fuel powered engine generator. It’s not so bad on the eyes, either.

If successful, this power duo will likely beat out the popularity of the Microsoft/Ford SYNC currently found in their Blue Oval products. The Volt was unveiled by GM last summer, with an expected release in sales end of this year (price yet to be determined). 

American brands see big gains in 2010 Vehicle Dependability Study

American brands deserve better perception in their home market

For the first time in a decade, American automakers have topped J.D. Power and Associates 2010 Vehicle Dependability Study as the most dependable car in the U.S. market.  The Cadillac DTS sedan won top honors, surpassing the Japanese cars that have claimed the title of most reliable car for years.  Even more surprising is the fact that seven of the top ten cars in the study came from either General Motors or Ford Motor Co.

The VDS is conducted on cars that are three years old, ensuring significant miles have been logged in each car.  This year, over 52,000 auto owners were asked to identify almost 200 problem areas in their vehicle.  These areas don’t simply include breaks or mechanical problems; annoyances are also recorded by owners.

The 2010 VDS had an industry standard of 155 problems per 100 cars.  This number is the lowest ever reported in any year of the study.  The Cadillac DTS beat every other car in the field with only 76 problems per 100 vehicles.  Porsche stole top honors as the most dependable auto brand, logging only 110 problems per 100 vehicles.  This is a significant improvement over 2009’s study, where they were 11th.  Ford’s luxury brand, Lincoln, came in second place.  It was followed by Buick, Lexus, Mercury, Toyota, and Honda, in that order.

GM ending Hummer brand after failed deal

Hummer H2

General Motors has announced that it will begin to wind down Hummer operations after the take over deal with a Chinese firm failed.  Sources have reported that Beijing had refused to approve the take over, though as of yet no official statement has been given.  One reason proposed by Klaus Paur, North Asia director of market research company TNS, is that China’s government is set on producing energy-efficient vehicles, and that the Hummer brand is fundamentally outside of this goal.

The deal was originally conceived last year, when GM went into bankruptcy protection and began divesting many of the famous brands it had purchased over the last few decades.  The Sichuan province-based Tengzhong firm, which specializes in road and construction equipment and energy industries, sought to by the Hummer brand from GM.  While Hummer’s reputation consists of military-styled, gas guzzling SUVs, Tengzhong’s mission was to improve fuel efficiency in the Hummer models.  This mission included the introduction of a line of diesel engine Hummers.

In the wake of the failed purchase, GM has stated that they will still honor Hummer warranties.  Likewise, GM will continue to provide vehicle service and spare part support for all current Hummer owners. While no word has been given as to when GM plans to halt production, chances are that like Saturn and Pontiac, Hummer will be phased out by the end of the year.

Saab purchased by Spyker

saab logo

Saab Motor Co.

The wake of General Motors‘ June 2009 bankruptcy left several brands stranded: the military-turned-civilian Hummer was sold to a Chinese machinery company, the affordable line of Saturn cars is set to be totally phased out and off lots by this October, and iconic American brand Pontiac will vanish by the end of 2010. Not all of GM’s brands are doomed to the scrape heap, though.  On January 26th, Dutch supercar maker Spyker announced that it had purchased the often unnoticeable Saab for $74 million dollars after months of negotiation.  Its plan for Saab: make it competitive with the well established sedans of companies like BMW and Audi, with the hope that this will make the brand profitable 2012.  Spyker’s plan is an optimistic one, given Saab’s underwhelming financial performance during its tenure as a GM brand.

The purchase offers Spyker a way to enter the lucrative luxury sedan market.  Currently, Spyker produces less than 50 cars a year, each with a price tag well over $200,000.  In stark contrast, they expect to sell between 100,000 and 125,000 Saabs annually.  At the very least, with the increase in workers Spyker will need in order to maintain production capacity for Saab, the company can hope to increase production of its supercars to around 100 a year.