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Innovation At-A-Glance

Innovation

Innovating technologies that translate into cleaner, safer and more connected transportation options for our customers

  • Announced strategic investment in Lyft to create an integrated network of on-demand autonomous vehicles in the U.S.
  • Launched new car- and ride-sharing brand, Maven, giving customers access to personalized, on-demand mobility services.
  • Continued development of vehicle-sharing programs in North America, Europe and China, combining multiple programs under the Maven brand.
  • Passed the 1 billionth customer connectivity interaction through OnStar.
  • Continued the industry’s largest and only global deployment of 4G LTE connectivity and introduced integration of third-party technologies such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
  • Introduced the next-generation 2016 Chevrolet Volt with extended EV range.
  • Announced plans to begin production of the Chevrolet Bolt EV in late 2016 and the addition of a Plug-in Hybrid Electric (PHEV) propulsion system to the Cadillac CT6 Sedan in China and U.S.
  • Redefine personal mobility through new, innovative, shared-use business models for vehicles that complement private ownership models.
  • Ensure ongoing connectivity advances are seamless, integrated and relevant to our customers.
  • Continue to develop competitive cost structures for advanced technologies.
  • Evolving internal and external perceptions of GM from an automotive OEM to a global mobility solutions provider.
  • Gaining widespread consumer acceptance of advanced technologies, such as electrification.
  • Ensuring complementary policies and investment in infrastructure, such as EV charging stations or V2V and V2I communication, to support the commercialization of advanced technologies.

Approach

We are in the midst of one of the most disruptive periods in the history of the automotive industry.

The convergence of rapidly improving technology and changing consumer preferences is creating an inflection point for the transportation industry not seen in decades. We believe the automotive industry will change more in the next five years than it has in the past 50 years. On a societal level, continued population growth and increased urbanization are leading to congested cities, while growing pressure on natural resources – energy, water, land and materials – is creating scarcity issues. Amidst this change, our business imperative is to provide personal mobility solutions for our customers that are more integrated into their daily lives than ever before, while addressing problems such as air pollution, traffic accidents and congestion, and enabling personal mobility and transportation services for all customer segments across all communities.

GM’s new car-sharing service, Maven, will provide customers access to highly personalized, on-demand mobility services.

Innovation is a GM core competency that spans our entire value chain and crosses multiple functional areas. Accordingly, innovation manifests itself in a wide variety of ways – from technological advances in vehicle connectivity and propulsion systems, to process improvements in manufacturing capabilities and innovative recycling methods.

We have established a cross-organization innovation management process led by an Innovation Quorum (IQ) that represents more than a dozen functions across the company, ranging from product design and manufacturing to finance and legal to corporate development and our Urban Active Solutions team. IQ seeks to create significant positive change for the customer through a framework that includes connectivity, autonomous, sustainability, safety/security and urban mobility. Further, IQ looks for integration across the domains and through the lens of women, global youth and the aging population. We believe this perspective will lead to unique innovations that generate significant positive change for customers.

Chevrolet EN-V 2.0 electric concept vehicles are being integrated into the multimodal transportation system at Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s Minhang campus alongside bicycles, cars and shuttle buses.

Urban Mobility

Rapid population growth and urbanization are causing congestion and pollution
issues in many of the world’s cities – problems that will only become worse when more
than 60 percent of the world’s population, or about 5 billion people, live in
cities by 2030, as projected.

This scenario creates both risks and opportunities for us. Governments are simultaneously looking for air quality, climate change, congestion and sustainable community development solutions, and we want to be active participants in this process. Some examples today include:

  • London, where a toll/payment-based system for vehicles traveling in congested areas is reducing the flow of traffic into and around the city center.
  • Helsinki, Finland; Hamburg, Germany; and Oslo, Norway, all of which are exploring ways to ban all vehicles within their city centers within the next two decades.
  • China, where six major cities already have implemented policies to curb the rate of vehicle ownership, and many more are considering similar measures.
  • California is implementing their Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund by investing more than $2 billion each year in clean and alternative transportation and sustainable community development.

In the context of this backdrop, we want to positively and proactively address the evolving personal mobility needs of our customers who live in dynamic urban and congested environments. Our customers are already engaging in alternative transportation options and ownership models beyond and complementary to traditional vehicle ownership.

GM Executive Vice President, Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain Dan Ammann (center) with Lyft Inc. co-founders John Zimmer (right) and Logan Green (left)

This requires evolving our view of the customer, who is no longer confined to someone who purchases a vehicle at a dealership. Rather, in many markets, our customer becomes someone who needs to move efficiently from point A to point B. That customer may end up purchasing a product and/or a service from us. In the process of meeting these needs, we aim to broaden the perception of GM from an automaker to a global mobility solutions provider. Our “product” moves beyond the vehicle to become a means of accessing shared modes of transportation. GM’s strength in this area lies in using the power of our underlying infrastructure and connectivity to create integrated service solutions in the most comprehensive and seamless manner possible.

In early 2016, GM made one of its most significant shared-use investments to date when we announced a long-term strategic alliance with Lyft to create an integrated network of on-demand autonomous vehicles in the U.S. The $500 million investment enables rapid growth of Lyft’s successful ride-sharing service. The GM and Lyft strategic alliance is focused specifically on:

  • Joint development of a network of on-demand autonomous vehicles that will leverage GM’s deep knowledge of autonomous technology and Lyft’s capabilities in providing a broad choice of ride-sharing services. GM’s pending acquisition of Cruise Automation will further accelerate the development of autonomous vehicle technology.
  • GM's becoming a preferred provider of short-term-use vehicles to Lyft drivers through rental hubs in various cities in the U.S.
  • Access to GM’s wide portfolio of cars and OnStar services for Lyft drivers and customers to create a richer ride-sharing experience for both driver and passenger.
  • Joint mobility offerings, including personalized services, for both GM and Lyft customers.

Car-Sharing Programs Around the World

GM took the next step in redefining personal mobility with a new car- and ride-sharing service, Maven, which combines and expands the company’s multiple programs under one brand. Maven leverages the expertise of professionals from the connected car industry as well as the technology of Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, OnStar, SiriusXM and 4G LTE wireless to personalize the shared car experience. Maven customers experience seamless smartphone and keyless integration with the vehicle and can use the Maven app to search for and reserve a vehicle by location or car type. Maven was first offered to more than 100,000 people in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with GM vehicles available initially at 21 parking spots across the city. Additional city-based programs will launch in major U.S. metropolitan areas later this year.

Maven+ is a seamless residential car-sharing program available exclusively to residents of an apartment building in midtown Manhattan, where car ownership is often inconvenient and expensive. Using a GM-developed smartphone app, residents can choose, locate and reserve a GM vehicle. If needed, parking can be accessed in one of 200 garages throughout Manhattan. Through their apartment lease payments, residents receive electronic credits valid for free rental hours each month. After that, users pay an hourly or daily rate to meet their mobility needs. GM and its partners, who are companies in real estate and parking lot operation, have already broadened the program after the success of an initial phase in which residents completed more than 100 trips and drove nearly 20,000 miles in the tri-state region for purpose-minded trips, such as big box store visits, grocery shopping and weekend outings. Maven+ will launch a residential car-sharing service for Chicago residents in the first quarter of 2016. Together, the programs will offer services to more than 5,000 residents.

Also in North America, our car-sharing program in the Detroit area continues with approximately two dozen vehicles among multiple GM campus locations in Warren and Detroit. Since its launch in 2014, more than 3,000 trips have been completed. This car-sharing program exists alongside a bike-sharing program at our Technical Center in Warren, Michigan. Through a partnership with Zagster, we now have 78 bikes at 17 stations that facilitate more than 2,800 employee registered users’ commutes among 61 buildings in the complex. Nearly two years into the broader program, employees already have traveled an equivalent distance of that between Los Angeles and New York City.

Maven customers use its app to search for and reserve a vehicle by location or car type and unlock the vehicle with their smartphone. The app also enables remote functions such as starting, heating or cooling and more.

Maven+ is GM's latest move to deliver unique residential car-sharing options in major U.S. cities.

Combining forces: Opel CMO Tina Müller (left) and campaign ambassador Bettina Zimmermann present the new CarUnity app.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, a sharing program based on our urban concept vehicle is growing in usage among staff and students at Jiao Tong University in China, a leading technical institution at the forefront of mobility innovation. The EN-V 2.0 concept vehicles are integrated into a multimodal transportation system at the university’s campus alongside bicycles, cars and shuttle buses.

Peer-to-peer car sharing, where private owners make their vehicles available for use to someone else, is the model for CarUnity, an Opel program in Germany. Members use an intuitive mobile app to quickly and easily rent a car or offer their own car for rent. Since CarUnity launched in mid-2015, its membership has grown to nearly 7,500 people and 2,000 active vehicles. With a goal of rolling out the service across Germany, CarUnity focuses on driving greater usage and development of new customer-facing technology innovations. Opel also has announced closer cooperation with the ride-sharing platform flinc, which will provide a technical platform to allow ride-sharing via its car-sharing mobile app.

Though based on three different continents, all of these programs seek to capitalize on the dynamics of a sharing economy, our relationships with our existing customers and our extensive reach and infrastructure. Together, these platforms will provide GM with long-term strategic benefits while contributing solutions to larger societal issues. Car-sharing, for example, can bring personal mobility options to consumers who find it inconvenient or unnecessary to own a vehicle full time, or who might not be able to afford vehicle ownership or who might require different types of vehicle models for certain periods of time and purposes.

OnStar assistance is ready at the touch of a button.

Vehicle Connectivity

Connectivity is fundamental to the rapidly accelerating pace of change in the automotive industry today.

Connectivity – both vehicle connectivity and personal connectivity through a smartphone – is a building block for a host of other technological advances and experiences we can provide to our customers. In the process, connectivity not only integrates our customers’ digital lives into their vehicles, but also enables a new generation of intelligent vehicles that provide societal benefits such as:

  • Improving safety by reducing the likelihood of vehicle crashes through new technology, such as autonomous driving and vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) connectivity.
  • Relieving congestion by using existing vehicle fleets more efficiently with car- and ride-sharing and multimodal transportation systems applications, as well as GPS-navigation apps.
  • Encouraging electric vehicle and advanced technology adoption by consumers through applications that increase the ease and convenience, for example, of EV charging.
  • Improving fuel economy through environmental route optimization that allows for shorter travel time, less engine idling or fewer elevation changes – especially valuable to EV drivers.

Read more about GM’s leadership in connectivity through applications in autonomous and vehicle-to-vehicle technologies here.

In this emerging world of connected mobility, GM has established a unique leadership position that draws upon nearly two decades of experience through OnStar, our in-vehicle safety, security, diagnostic, navigation and connectivity service. During 2015, OnStar surpassed 1.2 billion customer interactions through connectivity. This scale and scope have allowed us to continually introduce new advances, such as Automatic Crash Notification, Advanced Diagnostics, Stolen Vehicle Slowdown and mobile app access, while developing capabilities and managing the risks and responsibilities associated with connectivity, such as data security.

Equally as important, OnStar has provided us with an understanding and appreciation that offering a vehicle with the latest technology is only meaningful when it is seamlessly integrated, and consistent and relevant to our customers. This is why we continue to build upon our own core capabilities in this space, where we have nearly 750 patents, balanced with the integration of third-party technologies such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

These lessons have served us well. Since 2014, we have rolled out OnStar 4G LTE connectivity in more than 2.5 million vehicles across North America, China and Europe. This is the largest 4G LTE global deployment in the industry to date. We’ve elected to provide this technology across all GM brands, segments and models, as opposed to other deployments that have largely been reserved for luxury models. Our logic is simple – connectivity is a need that spans our entire customer base. Furthermore, the true promise of connectivity to transform transportation relies upon mass deployment and adoption. By 2020, we estimate more than 75 percent of the vehicles GM sells globally will have connected services.

As an example of how 4G LTE connectivity can benefit our customers and personal mobility, OnStar is preparing to roll out an industry-leading prognostic technology that can predict and notify drivers when certain components need attention – in many cases before vehicle performance is impacted. This predictive technology will be initially focused on the battery, starter motor and fuel pump, which are all critical to starting and keeping a vehicle running efficiently, and additional components will be added in future model years.

These Proactive Alerts rely on OnStar 4G LTE to provide data streams from sensors within the vehicle. When a customer enrolls a properly equipped vehicle in this service, the data is sent to OnStar’s secure servers where proprietary algorithms are applied to assess whether certain conditions could impact vehicle performance. If indicated, notifications are sent to the customer via email, text message or in-vehicle alerts. This predictive intelligence can be used to optimize vehicle operational efficiency, such as fuel economy, and help extend product life.

The All-Electric 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV (pre-production model shown)

Vehicle Electrification

We have long seen vehicle electrification as a pillar in the future of automotive transportation.

Our investments into hybrid electric vehicles, plug-in electric vehicles and fuel-cell vehicles go back several decades and continue today. Since 2010, when the Chevrolet Volt was introduced, we have invested more than $2 billion in capital toward vehicle electrification and manufacturing. These investments not only have expanded our product portfolio, but also chipped away at the challenges of mainstreaming electric propulsion. Today, we remain a leader in market-enabling programs and policies, while continuing to work toward remaining hurdles: the development of a long-term plan for EV charging infrastructure, customer acceptance, EV affordability and technological challenges, such as EV range.

The introduction of the next-generation 2016 Chevrolet Volt demonstrates the technological progress that can be made in range. Much of this progress is the result of the significant investments in our internal development and manufacturing capabilities for electric batteries, motors and power controls, as well as strategic partnerships. These investments also are helping us to lower the cost of building, owning and operating an EV. Today, we are among the industry leaders in battery cell cost per kilowatt hour and believe that incremental progress will continue to be made through the remainder of this decade.

Read more about the 2016 Chevrolet Volt here.

The all-electric Chevrolet Bolt EV represents our next electrification chapter, one that seeks to make electrification an attainable, rather than exclusive, technology for customers. The Bolt EV is designed to meet the daily driving needs of consumers with more than 200 miles of range and a price as low as $30,000 after U.S. Federal tax credit. We anticipate marketing the vehicle in all 50 states and many global markets over time. Drivers will be able to select operating modes designed around preferred driving styles such as daily commuting and weekend cruising, and the vehicle will incorporate DC fast charging capability. Production of the Bolt EV is slated to begin at our Orion Township, Michigan, assembly plant in late 2016.

Fuel-Cell Technology

Our approach to electrification is a multifaceted one that also encompasses fuel-cell electric technology. Fuel-cell vehicles offer the potential for faster refueling and longer range than battery electric, but face significant challenges. A major hurdle remains the lack of well-developed, commercial refueling infrastructure. We are encouraged to see a few regions, such as California, where progress is being made toward installing a nascent refueling network that can support initial commercialization efforts. While we have been actively supporting these planning efforts and applaud progress, further network development will require broader financial commitments from the public sector in additional regions.

Nevertheless, the long-term potential of this technology as a clean and efficient alternative fuel is compelling enough to support ongoing investment. We are a leader in fuel-cell vehicles, having driven more than 3 million real-world miles in a fleet of fuel-cell powered Chevrolet Equinox SUVs and having achieved significant fuel-cell cost improvements. Today, we have a successful partnership with Honda, also a leader in the space, for ongoing development of fuel-cell technology. We are also co-testing fuel-cell propulsion with the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development & Engineering Center (TARDEC). A Chevrolet Colorado midsize pick-up has been modified to run on a commercial hydrogen fuel cell propulsion system for testing under the extremes of daily military use for 12 months.

Stakeholder coordination and implementation can be equally important to the successful deployment and market integration of advanced vehicle technologies. These collaborations enable complementary programs and business models that can be key to consumer adoption. Today, for example, GM has accepted governor-appointed leadership positions in public-private partnerships in Massachusetts and Maryland to support plug-in electric vehicle deployments.

We also are a founding member of the Workplace Charging Challenge, which seeks to persuade employers to commit to provide EV charging access to employees through partnership, advocacy and promotion. We lead by example and today count more than 500 EV charging stations at our U.S. production and business facilities, spurring the growing adoption of EVs by our enthusiastic employees. These conversations set the stage for market alignment among business, technical and regulatory interests and offer additional market opportunities such as vehicle-grid integration.

With multiple opportunities and challenges ahead, GM is steadfastly committed to the continued development of advanced propulsion technologies and the necessary complementary programs and policies to enable their adoption. This commitment not only enables us to offer cutting-edge technology to our customers, but also provides opportunities to leverage that technology by adapting it for more mainstream applications and broader impact. From a longer-term perspective, these technologies are an intrinsic part of our mission to transform transportation in order to meet the evolving mobility needs of our customers, while helping solve some of the world’s most complex challenges.

GM’s fleet of hydrogen-powered Chevrolet Equinox Fuel Cell vehicles, launched in 2007 as part of Project Driveway, has accumulated more than 3 million miles of real-world driving with a fleet of 119 vehicles.