GM reacts to state of Washington's proposed EV surtax

The Washington State Senate last month passed a bill that would charge electric car owners $100 per year to compensate for not paying gas taxes.

In response, GM Director of Government Affairs Hal Lenox sent a letter to Washington Gov. Chris Gregorie asking the surtax be removed, calling the bill "unfair."

If signed into law, the tax would only apply to owners of the all-electric vehicles. The bill excludes vehicles like the Chevrolet Volt, which can run part of the time on gas. Still, GM spoke out against it.

GM officials say that because of the high cost … Read more

New Buick LaCrosse makes hybrid standard

Luxury car makers usually insist that you need massive amounts of V-8 horsepower to motivate your leather and wood trimmed executive sedan. Some drivers may crave that kind of power, but many are content to cruise at the speed limit while considering whether pork bellies would be a good investment.

Buick built its new LaCrosse for that second class of driver. Its four-cylinder engine may seem meager, but at 2.4 liters and using direct injection, it gives the full-size sedan reasonable power. Buick enhances that power with a small electric motor, not powerful enough to drive the wheels on … Read more

Startup Envia battery promises to slash EV costs

With the auto industry pining for a battery breakthrough to lower electric vehicle costs, Envia Systems has some interesting performance data to share.

The five-year-old company today is expected to disclose technical details of its batteries which executives say could lead to cutting EV battery pack prices in half in three or four years. Envia Systems' batteries are being evaluated by a number of automakers, including its largest investor General Motors, according to CEO Atul Kapadia.

The lithium ion batteries in cars, such as the Chevy Volt or Nissan Leaf, provide ample power to accelerate a car, but the cost … Read more

California lets the Volt into the carpool lane

The first 35 miles or so that you drive in a fully charged Chevrolet Volt are emissions-free, but until now, that hasn't been good enough to make it eligible for a highly coveted Clean Air Vehicle Decal in California. Chevrolet has added a Low Emissions Package to the Volt that lets it achieve the California Air Resources Board's Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle rating (AT-PZEV).

High-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes in California require two or three occupants in the car to drive in the faster, less congested lanes. However, certain alternative fuel vehicles are approved for green or … Read more

OnStar readies telematics platform for global expansion

After more than 15 years spreading beyond the U.S. into Canada and most recently China, OnStar is planning to expand its reach even further. The telematics company partnered with Telefonica, the world's third-largest mobile carrier, to make its emergency response and navigation technology available to countries that don't use CDMA networks.

Telefonica will help deliver OnStar's automatic crash notification, emergency services, turn-by-turn navigation, diagnostics, and remote mobile connectivity to consumers using its international GSM network. With 6 million global customers to date, the new partnership means that the GM subsidiary will be able to tap into … Read more

Chevy Volt poses no elevated fire risk, NHTSA says

A safety investigation into the Chevy Volt is now behind General Motors.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Friday said that it has ended an inquiry into potential safety problems with the battery-run Chevy Volt.

"Based on the available data, NHTSA does not believe that Chevy Volts or other electric vehicles pose a greater risk of fire than gasoline-powered vehicles," the agency said in a statement.

Last year, the NHTSA started a safety defect investigation after a side-impact collision test caused a fire three weeks after the test. That and subsequent tests led GM to make modifications to reinforce the battery pack and the coolant system. … Read more

GM explores rear windows as entertainment displays

When I was a kid and my family went on road trips, my siblings and I played "Punch Buggy," a particularly brutal game of spotting a VW Beetle and punching the kid next to you in the arm. Kids today have less combative forms of in-car entertainment such as DVD players and game machines. But kids in the future may have backseat entertainment that looks like it's straight out of a sci-fi movie.

Recently, General Motors Research and Development tasked researchers and students from the Future Lab, at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Israel, to … Read more

The unstoppable advent of the connected car

LAS VEGAS--Sporting booths and displays suitable for a full-fledged car show, major automakers showed off their varying connected car strategies at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show.

But the automaker displays at CES only held a smattering of cars, the space primarily being taken up by standalone dashboards and kiosks showing in-car navigation, audio, phone, and app screens. I never doubted the benefits of data feeds in cars, as integrating Google search with a navigation system is far better than relying on some static, outdated points-of-interest database.

Knowing the glacial pace of automotive development, what surprised me was how quickly automakers … Read more

Green Car Journal announces five finalists for 2012 award

Green Car Journal announced five finalists for the publication's annual Green Car Vision Award. The award recognizes innovations in fuel efficiency, low emissions, alternative fuels, or electric power.

To be considered for the Green Car Vision Award, vehicles must be in demonstration on public highways today or nearing commercialization but not yet widely available to consumers, Green Car Journal said in a press release.

The five finalists include the BMW i3, the Cadillac ELR, the Ford's C-MAX Energi, the Mercedes-Benz B-Class F-Cell, and the Tesla Model S.

The 2012 Green Car Vision Award winner will be announced at … Read more

OnStar invites third-party developers to hit the gas

OnStar is giving the green light to third-party app developers.

The General Motors in-vehicle concierge announced this evening at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that it's making its proprietary application program interface open for third-party app developers, giving them access to the OnStar ATOMS cloud server. (See CNET's live blog of the OnStar event.)

The first third-party app will be RelayRides, a peer-to-peer service in which users rent out their personal cars to other drivers in the area. A demo of the app showed it helping users find, reserve, and unlock OnStar enabled cars using the … Read more