General Motors is building on two decades of connectivity leadership to capitalize on the future of personal mobility by owning the customer relationship beyond the vehicle.
The convergence of rapidly improving technology and changing consumer preferences is providing GM an opportunity to be a disruptor in four areas: autonomous, connected, electrified and shared vehicles.
Three recent actions evidenced this direction: A $500 million investment in the ride-hailing service Lyft; the creation and growth of the Maven brand for all expressions of shared mobility, and the acquisition of Cruise Automation, a San Francisco-based startup with expertise in autonomous vehicle technology.
In 2015, the Chevrolet brand began offering Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in-car connectivity services in 14 nameplates, the auto industry’s largest deployment. Buick, GMC and Cadillac have since added the feature. This followed the largest rollout of 4G LTE wireless service in the industry, where an in-vehicle hotspot is capable of hosting up to seven separate connections to the internet at one time.
The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV offers 238 miles on a single charge, a range that more than covers the needs of most commuters. The Bolt EV was expected to be for sale in all 50 states by August 2017.
Also in the electrification space, the second-generation Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric vehicle provides 53 miles of pure electric power before a gasoline generator kicks in to provide electricity for a total of more than 400 miles of range.
GM is also reinvigorating fuel cell propulsion. In January 2017, GM and Honda announced a joint venture to mass produce fuel cell systems for use by each company around 2020. GM is pursuing a “land, sea, air” strategy for fuel cells that includes demonstration projects with the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy.
Weight reduction in all vehicles is another focus area since lighter vehicles are better able to meet increasingly stringent global CO2 standards and better efficiency and enhanced performance. The company is using an array of materials, including various grades of steel, aluminum and composites, to help make vehicles stronger, safer and more fuel efficient.
The redesigned 2018 Equinox, for example, shed nearly 400 pounds —approximately 10 percent of its mass – compared with the outgoing model. Using a mixed-material strategy for strength and low weight, more than 80 percent of the Equinox’s body structure is composed of high-grade steel materials, with high-strength steel comprising nearly 20 percent. The mixed-material design is used on all recently introduced Chevrolet cars and crossovers.
GM’s R&D team invented an industry-first welding technology to allow the use of more lightweight metal on future vehicles. This resistance spot-welding process enables the welding of aluminum to steel, which helps make vehicles lighter and more structurally robust. The process was adopted at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant on the Cadillac CT6.
The company expects to grow its business over the next five years through key initiatives, including maintaining a strong market position in China with more SUV and luxury segments and electric vehicle offerings; expanding Cadillac’s vehicle portfolio into growing luxury segments; continuing the growth of GM Financial through the global expansion of services, and expanding aftersales and OnStar revenue opportunities globally.
GM is keeping its portfolio of vehicles relevant and fresh. Thirty-five percent of the company’s U.S. sales volume is expected to come from new or refreshed models in 2017, rising to 45 percent by 2020.
GM and its partners produce vehicles in 18 countries and are increasingly leveraging global architectures to offer more nameplates under Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC, as well as Baojun, Holden, Jiefang and Wuling.
CTO, VP Global Research and Development, President GM Ventures
Jon Lauckner was named GM Vice President and Chief Technology Officer (CTO), effective April 1, 2012. In addition to his role as CTO, Jon remains President, GM Ventures and also responsible for leading GM’s Global Research and Development organization.
Prior to becoming CTO, Lauckner was responsible for forming General Motors Ventures, LLC, a separate subsidiary started July 1, 2010. As president, Jon leads a team that makes equity investments in startup companies that are developing next-generation automotive technology.
Lauckner has also previously held the positions of Vice President of General Motors Global Product Planning and Vice President of Global Program Management.
Jon joined General Motors in 1979 and held a number of positions in product engineering, powertrain engineering and product development, including international assignments in South America and Europe from 1992-2005.
Lauckner received a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan in 1979. He earned a Master of Science degree in management from Stanford Business School in 1990 through the Sloan Fellowship program and attended the GM-Harvard Senior Executive Program in 2001.