• Follow us

Automotive

GM Gives All Its Vehicles a New Soul

General Motors’ latest offering is so far from sexy, it doesn’t even have a clever name created by the marketing department via focus group. But the new “electronic platform,” the computing network that will run through nearly all the company's vehicles and make their myriad digital systems work, is as key to the automaker’s future as any single feature, or even vehicle. It’s the infrastructure that will let GM compete in an industry increasingly ruled by software—and give its customers all the high-tech goodies they’ve come to expect, from high-res screens to booty-shaking safety features.

“It’s the brain and nervous system of the vehicle,” says Al Adams, GM’s director of electrical components and subsystems, who led its development. Think of it as the infrastructure that lets all the bits of the car communicate clearly and securely. You could also call it the guts—the little-appreciated, tucked-away part of the body that isn’t noticed until it doesn’t work. The architecture will debut on the 2020 Cadillac CT5, due to enter production later this year. Over the next four years, GM will roll it out to most of its global lineup, which counts 56 models across four brands.

In terms of both bandwidth and compute power, the new setup is five times more capable than the system underpinning GM’s current cars, the rough equivalent of going from the original iPhone to the iPhone 7. And so more cars will get Cadillac’s Super Cruise semiautonomous driving system and other active safety features. GM will now be able to issue over-the-air software updates, improving how its engines run or how its suspensions handle bumpy roads, even years after a car has been sold. (This idea is old hat for smartphone users and Tesla drivers, but still new to most automakers.) More processing power allows for better resolution on screens. Smarter battery management systems can squeeze more miles out of electric cars’ batteries.

With its current electric architecture, GM could offer some of these things on any given vehicle. The point of the reworked, beefed up system is to provide all of it, along with whatever the folks in the R&D department cook up next. That’s increasingly necessary in an age where customers want cars that work as cleanly as their phones, and where tech-forward automakers like Tesla show that’s possible.

“Vehicles are now becoming so connected, so dependent on data, on processing, this is not just adding one more feature,” says Anna Stefanopoulou, a mechanical and electrical engineer who directs the University of Michigan’s Energy Institute. “You have to completely rethink the computing system.”

For GM, the process started several years ago. It’s part of an ongoing evolution, Adams says. Today’s cars contain up to 30 or 40 computers, controlling everything from the workings of the transmission to the little light that comes on when mom or dad hits the window lock button. That’s about double the number from a decade ago, even as GM’s team consolidated various functions into single computers. (They also worked to minimize the amount of wiring running through the vehicle, taking out several kilograms in weight.)

General Motors' new electrical system will debut in the Cadillac CT5, set to enter production later this year.

General Motors

In the process, more than 300 electrical engineers and computer scientists filed more than 100 patents. They benchmarked their new cybersecurity setup against defense and aviation systems, focusing on things like message authentication—so when the radar says the road ahead is clear, the cruise control knows it’s really the radar talking.

And since this is a system that going into cars—products expected to work for a decade through all sorts of weather—GM had to test it like a car. In their 100,000-square foot lab, the engineers stacked up all the computers and modules they plan to build into a car, fed them faux engine data and stressed them in different ways. Once they were happy with the result, they started building it into development vehicles for durability and environmental testing.

The end result is not the kind of thing any dealer will use to sell an undecided customer on a new Chevy or Cadillac. It’s what will allow for the goodies they’d rather point to: the clever safety features, the oh-so clear screen, the hundreds of miles of electric range. The things that, more than horsepower and torque, matter to the people who just want to be comfortable and safe while they move about their lives. The things that today, all rely on computers.

“Software is the next battleground,” Adams says. And GM knows that you can’t win a fight without the logistical backing that gets your soldiers drafted, trained, and into the field.

More Great WIRED StoriesGame of Thrones is the last show to bring us togetherThe Chernobyl disaster may have also built a paradiseThe hacker group on a supply-chain hijacking spreeLA’s plan to reboot its bus system using cell phone dataThe antibiotics business is broken, but there's a fix💻 Upgrade your work game with our Gear team's favorite laptops, keyboards, typing alternatives, and noise-canceling headphones📩 Want more? Sign up for our daily newsletter and never miss our latest and greatest storiesRead More



Leave A Comment

More News

Automotive News Breaking

VW to reshuffle $56B battery push as Samsung 2019-05-28 06:55:36Samsung initially agreed with VW to deliver batteries for just over 20 gigawatt hours, enough to power 200,000 cars, before different views on product

EU rejects Trump suggestion for quotas on EU 2019-05-28 06:50:13European Union trade chiefs meeting in Brussels dismissed an idea floated by President Donald Trump earlier this month of fixing quotas on European au

Tackling hot topics in Europe 2019-05-27 00:00:01Hakan Samuelsson, CEO of Volvo Cars, is flanked by Automotive News Europe Publisher Jason Stein, left, and Group Publisher KC Crain at the Automotive

Ford: Job cuts had to be slow 2019-05-27 00:00:01Executives are adamant that being deliberative about cutting 10 percent of its global white-collar work force was necessary to yield meaningful benefi

Tornado causes heavy damage to Chevy store in 2019-05-27 00:00:01The toll at Riley Chevrolet: 750 vehicles damaged, a wrecked showroom, a destroyed service department.    

Audi kills TT, VW cuts Golf lineup to 2019-05-27 00:00:01VW's $50 billion strategy to put large numbers of battery-electric vehicles on the world's roads will result in some casualties in North America.

GM's Maven exits show tough road for mobility 2019-05-27 00:00:01Maven's exit from eight markets is the latest example of the balancing act automakers face between investing in emerging but unproven business models

Nissan could end scorned stair-steps 2019-05-27 00:00:01Nissan is considering pulling the plug on its contentious incentive program as early as this summer. A shift would mark a sea change for the brand.

FCA's Detroit plans could spur more supplier investments 2019-05-26 09:09:28Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan hinted the city was in talks with at least four logistics and supplier teams to expand in Detroit, promising an additio

The secret to Constellium's success? Billions of beer 2019-05-26 00:00:01The Dutch aluminum giant Constellium wanted to get serious about the U.S. auto market, so it bought a plant that makes aluminum for beer cans.

Senators urge VW to end delay of UAW 2019-05-21 11:40:59Earlier this month, the largest German automaker won its bid to put off a union election for 1,700 workers at the Chattanooga, Tenn., plant until its

Tesla's bullish analysts turn bearish 2019-05-21 10:50:33A selloff of Tesla shares has been sparked by slowing deliveries and a chaotic shift in retailing strategy early this year has accelerated this month,

Motor Trend

Back to Back: 2019 Ford Expedition vs. 2019 2019-05-27 04:00:55Drive the GMC Yukon and the Ford Expedition back-to-back, and Charles Darwin comes to mind. The British naturalist wrote On the Origin of Species, the

The Best Supra? It’s Not the New One 2019-05-27 04:00:54I don’t get all the breathless hype around the 2020 Toyota Supra. Yes, I know it’s quick and sticks to the road like a burr to a blanket.

2021 Ford Bronco: What it Can Learn From 2019-05-27 04:00:54Will retro ever go out of style? We think not—as time passes, retro-tastic looks only get more, well, retro-tastic. Based on the teaser image we

2021 Ford Bronco: Everything You Need to Know 2019-05-27 04:00:12One of the most highly anticipated vehicles on the automotive horizon is the 2021 Ford Bronco. A legend among off-road enthusiasts, the Bronco was an

7 Ways Your Car is Turning Into a 2019-05-27 04:00:02Connectivity is now more important to new-car consumers than ever before, and as we move toward autonomous driving, it will continue to play a major r

5 Reasons Why Car Photography Matters 2019-05-26 04:00:57Car posters—you probably had one on the wall over your bed before you could drive. And at the heart of each photo lies great photography: a Pors

Look on the Bright Side: Why Colorful Cars 2019-05-26 04:00:02The color made it impossible for me to ignore. Almost unnaturally bright and saturated, the paint adorning the Volkswagen Golf R delivered to the Moto

MotorTrend Testing: How Much Times Have Changed in 2019-05-25 04:00:16We test cars … trucks, SUVs, hatchbacks, vans, and even a few three-wheelers. This is what sets MotorTrend apart from bloggers, Vloggers, and i

Mazda3 Through the Years: The Evolution of an 2019-05-25 04:00:00Mazda has long had a reputation for building vehicles that are fun to drive. From the Miata to the CX-5, Mazdas have historically offered higher level

New Hints From BMW, Toyota Suggest the Supra 2019-05-24 16:37:04Enthusiasts are divided on whether the 2020 Toyota Supra’s BMW bones are a sacrilege or a nonissue. Regardless, the pairing means that what one

2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupe First Drive: Porsche’s Sportiest 2019-05-20 18:01:15Better late than never. Years after its German rivals launched cut-down versions of their mainstream SUVs, Porsche has finally got around to building

15 Cars That Won’t Disappoint You Like the 2019-05-20 17:38:02Like a lot of other people, we were pretty disappointed with the Game of Thrones finale. Half the things that happened made no sense, many of the

Automotive news - from

GAC-Nio unveils new EV brand, concept vehicle 2019-05-28 09:38:00GAC-Nio, a joint venture between China's GAC Group and electric vehicle start-up Nio, has unveiled a new brand for its forthcoming electric vehicles.

China tweaks sales tax in favour of buyers 2019-05-28 09:04:00The Chinese government said it plans to amend its sales tax policy to reflect the actual sales price of vehicles, according to local reports citing a

CFDT union cites Renault FCA "unanswered questions" 2019-05-28 07:50:00France's CFDT union says there are still "many unanswered questions" surrounding FCA's (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) proposal concerning a potential

Renault board to 'study with interest' FCA merger 2019-05-28 07:24:00Renault's Board of Directors has met today to examine the proposal received from FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) regarding a potential 50/50 merger b

Libelium integrates radar technology in smart parking devices 2019-05-28 07:18:00Spanish manufacturer of hardware and IoT solutions manufacturer, Libelium, has integrated radar technology in detecting the availability of parking sp

Denso outlines business strategy and progress updates 2019-05-28 07:12:00Denso has announced updates to its new business strategy and progress toward achieving its 2030 goal: to create and inspire new value for the future o

Daimler/Kamaz open truck cabin production facility in Naberezhnye 2019-05-28 07:10:00Daimler Kamaz RUS (DK RUS), Joint Venture has opened a new truck cabin production facility in Naberezhnye Chelny.

Continental and Pema digitalise CV tyre management 2019-05-28 07:06:00Commercial vehicle rental company, Pema and Continental have digitalised tyre management for more than 18,000 vehicles.

Faurecia makes Nolwenn Delaunay EVP legal department 2019-05-28 05:49:00Faurecia has appointed Nolwenn Delaunay as executive vice-president, General Counsel in charge of the Legal Department, the Compliance and Risk Depart

Faurecia invests in Israeli cybersecurity company 2019-05-28 05:40:00Faurecia is making an unspecified investment in GuardKnox, an Israeli automotive cybersecurity provider, to reinforce data security in

FCA proposes merger with Renault 2019-05-27 11:03:00FCA (Fiat-Chrysler) has issued a proposal for a 'transformative merger' with Renault. Under the plans, the combined business would be owned 50% by F

First Ionity charging station launched in UK 2019-05-24 06:51:00Ionity - the JV between BMW Group, Daimler AG, Ford and VW set up to create a network of high power electric battery charging stations throughout Euro


Disclaimer and Notice:WorldProNews.com is not responsible of these news or any information published on this website.