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Could General Motors Change the Electric Car Industry?
  
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Parallax1

-Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

When the automobile first came out before the days of Henry Ford, it was a luxury item. Something that most Americans can't live without today was once reserved for the rich and famous. That all changed with the emergence of Ford's assembly line and other entrepreneurial icons that changed the face of the industry. New heroes and still changing it today.

Mr_and_Mrs_Henry_Ford_in_his_first_car.jpgcredit to; https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mr_and_Mrs_Henry_Ford_in_his_first_car.jpg 

Take, for example, the rise of the electric car, once an inefficient and expensive toy. Most experts were unsure it would ever be roadworthy, especially in the long haul. A short battery life, a compact size, and poor acceleration were all issues that haunted this still developing technology. Even so, the implications were too big to ignore. We live in a world where we are constantly hearing about climate change and always seeking the next big technology. The electric car just seems like the next logical step. But where does it go from here?

The same principle that applied to the automobile once applied to the electric car: it was expensive, not practical and a toy of the rich and famous. Batteries are expensive and, at first, most of them withered in the face of Father Time with a limited battery life. Industry newcomers like Tesla are already striving to change that. CEO titans like Elon Musk are dominating the fledgling electric car market. Tesla might not be the only major player in the game to consider, at least not for long. Reuters reports that General Motors is also throwing its hat in the arena.

2018 Tesla Model S.JPG

Can General Motors Pull it Off? 

It's no secret that General Motors has already been fiddling around the allure of the electric vehicle. The company sold around 16,400 full electrics in the U.S with its new Chevy Bolt EV. Meanwhile, 60,000 units sold of a separate model in a similar joint venture in China. It's still a bold move. In terms of both sales and engineering, at least in electric cars, Tesla is by far the stronger company. General Motors' sales don't even come close. Last year saw Tesla pushing out more than 200,000 in the U.S alone and even more internationally. Every day they're stepping up their game. Don't count GM out just yet, however. They may be able to pull off an upset.

When measured solely in terms of cash value and revenue, GM is by far the dominant titan here. They have plenty of capital to work with. Still, they could lose that status if they fail in their bid to compete for a place in the growing green energy market. Fueled by fears of climate change and the toxicity of carbon emissions, more people are clamoring for cleaner and safer models. Imagine a car that uses zero gallons of gas and produces zero harmful emissions? Now imagine these cars are just as affordable, safe, and efficient. Imagine now that they're just as accessible as traditional gas and diesel varieties. Tesla is striving to make this a reality, and now GM is too. The question remains, "Who will reach that finish line first?"

It's All About The Battery

One of the biggest obstacles to affordable and efficient electrical models in the automotive industry is the battery. Range anxiety is the most often cited barrier to mainstream purchases of full electric cars. Batteries also need replacing, and worst of all, the battery packs aren't cheap. These factors keep gasoline and diesel dominant, and GM is still at the top in that industry. Still, they may be striving to change that, too.

GM has announced plans that seek to reduce the costs of their EV batteries to under $100 for every kilowatt-hour. That means that battery pack costs would see drops of up to 45%. Not only that, but they may be developing smaller, cheaper, and more efficient batteries with a new line altogether. A new partnership with a Korean chemical company may be seeking to do just that, and plans have already begun.

2014 Chevrolet Spark EV.JPG

Already investments of over $2 billion have poured into a new company that will be part of a joint venture between General Motors and LG Chem, a Korean battery producer. This venture will seek to develop a cheaper and longer-lasting battery pack.

The joint venture has already announced the establishment of a state of the art manufacturing plant. The company expects the plant to create over 1,100 jobs in Northeast Ohio near the community of Lordstown. Groundbreaking for the facility is expected to take place sometime in the middle of this year. This alone could have a substantial impact on the electric car industry, especially as companies like Tesla are sure to launch countermeasures. What other developments might take place to improve this ascending technology? What else might we see from other companies seeking to compete for a piece?

Electrical Cars are Here to Stay

It's hard to say right now what the future of the industry holds, especially for companies like GM who have had a rockier history in recent years. Despite requiring a government bailout and declaring bankruptcy in 2009 to stay afloat, the company has made a comeback with rising profits over the years. Whether or not they continue to impress remains uncertain as the industry continues to evolve. Tesla and GM have continued to provide an impressive match up, going head to head in this industry. As the fight heats up, it could change the automobile as we know it forever.

Many winners and losers will surely arise in this industry. Who they are is a question that remains to be answered. A great deal of uncertainty is haunting the auto industry, as these changes take place. Technicians may be returning to school, and dealerships along with auto-part shops will probably be updating their inventory. Whatever champions may emerge one thing and only one thing seems to be certain. Like it or not, the electric car is not going anywhere, anytime soon. The future is coming, and it's here to stay. 

2020 Chevrolet Bolt.jpg

 

 
 
 
 

2020 Volkswagen Model Year Changes
  
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Parallax1

Arteon

2020 Volkswagen Arteon

The top-of-the-line SEL Premium now features R-Line trim and 20-inch wheels.

Atlas

2020 Volkswagen Atlas

Car-Net telematics with emergency dispatching in case of accident is now standard, as is in-car Wi-Fi.

Atlas Cross Sport

2020 Volkswagen Atlas Sport Cross Concept

The shorter (by less than three inches), sportier Atlas Cross Sport is here. It loses the third seat row of the standard Atlas and about 19 cubic feet of maximum cargo space (77.8 cubic feet with the rear seat folded). The Cross Sport weighs about 230 pounds less.

The same two engines as the Atlas will appear here, only the 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder will be offered in all-wheel drive; in the 3-row Atlas only the 3.6 V6 offers 4Motion AWD.

Beetle

After a limited special edition for 2019, discontinued.

Golf

2020 Volkswagen Golf

Sixteen-inch wheels are now the standard; the 15-inch wheels are discontinued. Trims S, SE, etc. are gone, leaving only the Golf TSI.

Car-Net, a telematics system that can report an accident even if the driver is disabled, is now standard. Wi-Fi, Keyless Access, Push-Button Start, heated front seats, heated washer nozzles and a panoramic sunroof are now standard.

Adaptive cruise control, Park Distance Control, Parking Steering Assistant, 17-inch wheels and rear automatic braking are no longer offered.

Golf Sportwagen/Alltrack

Gone.

Golf R

Discontinued.

GTI

2020 Volkswagen GTI

Rabbit special edition is gone, leaving the S and SE and SE with the Autobahn Package. Next-generation Car-Net, in-car WiFi, Front Assist (frontal collision warning and automatic braking), Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Traffic Alert are all standard. All versions now get the larger brakes from the SE/Autobahn.

Jetta

2020 Volkswagen Jetta GLI at 2019 CAS

Next-generation Car-Net and in-car WiFi are now standard. Wireless charging for compatible phones is now available, standard on GLI Autobahn, SEL and SEL Premium.

Jetta R-Line now has a manual transmission as standard. It is still also standard on GLI and Jetta S. As the 35th Anniversary GLI goes away, the DCC (automatic, electronically adjustable suspension) is now standard on the Autobahn trim.

Jetta GLI offers an optional Black Package ($595), part of an industry-wide fad, including black wheels, a black roof, black mirror tops and a black spoiler.

Passat

2020 Volkswagen Passat at 2019 CAS

The Passat gets a refresh for 2020, including a larger grille with agressive chrome accents. The 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder gets more torque (206 pound-feet) for better acceleration. Suprisingly, it keeps its 6-speed automatic when competitors have 8, 9 or 10 gears.

An inch-and-a-half additional overall length and a half inch lowering in height are the only changed dimensions, the former due to the different styling of the front bumper. Curb weight is up 40 pounds, inevitable during a refresh.

LED headlights and heated side mirrors are now standard on all models. Keyless Access, a power driver's seat and heated front seats are not standard on the new entry-level Passat S. Automatic high beams are now offered: standard on SEL.

Entry-level pricing is down more than $2000.

Tiguan

2020 Volkswagen Tiguan

Next-generation Car-Net, in-car WiFi, Front Assist (frontal collision warning and automatic braking), Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Traffic Alert are all standard. Wireless phone charging is available.

SEL Premium is gone and SEL R-Line is replaced by SE R-Line.

 
 
 
 

2020 Kia Model Year Changes
  
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Parallax1

Cadenza

2020 Kia Cadenza

A thorough refresh for 2020 brings a beautiful new grille, a new hood, standard LED headlights, redesigned rear bumper, redesigned taillights and redesigned wheels. On the inside the instrument panel is completely new, the radio controls are now above the climate controls. Overall length increases by one inch.

Remote start is now offered: standard. Forward Collision Warning, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, pedestrian detection, Smart Cruise Control, Blind Spot Collision Avoidance Assist, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Auto High Beams, navigation computer, electronic parking brake, rain-sensitive wipers, wireless phone charging, power-folding side mirrors, compass, HomeLink garage door openers and panoramic sunroof are all now standard. Lane Following Assist follows visible lane markings or the vehicle in front and is included with the new standard "Sensor Fusion" package. Highway Driving Assist, also standard, adjusts cruising speed to the posted or stored speed limit. Safe Exit Assist uses the sensors from the blind spot system to alert driver and passengers to approaching vehicles before they open their doors; it and a Driver Attention Monitor are standard on both models.

Blind Spot View Monitor is new, and standard on Limited. It projects a view of the appropriate side of the vehicle when the turn signal is actiavted to help show what is in the driver's blind spots.

The previous entry level Premium is discontinued, leaving the Cadenza Technology as the base and the Limited as the second and top level. Many features previously standard on Cadenza Technology are now only available on Limited, including ventilated front seats, power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, heated steering wheel and memory driver's seat, wheel and mirrors.

The power rear sunshade and heads-up display are no longer available.

Forte

2020 Kia Forte GT

All-new for 2019, the Forte now gets its hot-rod cred with the GT and a 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder cranking out 201 horsepower. The Forte GT replaces the solid rear twist-axle for a full multi-link independent set-up to make handling more racy. Finally, front brake discs are 1-inch larger than more mundane Fortes.

Want the cred without the actual zoom? GT Line has the looks but packs the regular 147-horsepower 2.0-liter and pretty much replaces the Forte S.

LED headlights are no longer offered on other Forte models; they are standard on GT. GT Line and GT get heated outside mirrors with turn signal repeaters, same as EX.

K900

2020 Kia K900

The Adaptive Cruise Control can now change speeds based on speed limits on U.S. Interstates. The Surround View Monitor display is improved. "AWD" baddge is moved to the trunk lid.

Niro

2020 Kia Niro at 2019 LA Auto Show

A mild refresh brings new headlights, grille and wheels. New chevron-patterned LED daytime running lights will help accent the changes and make the Niro more unmistakeable at night. Inside the dashboard's 7-inch cluster is redesigned. Now optional paddles on the steering wheel can enact aggressive brake regeneration in order to slow down entirely without using the brake.

The trim-level names are reshuffled: Last year's FE, LX, EX, S Touring and Touring become 2020's LX, LXS, Touring Special Edition, Touring, and EX Premium.

Lane Following, Lane Keeping Assist and High Beam Assist are all now offered.

Daytime running lights are now standard.

Optima

 

2020 Kia Optima

Wireless phone charging is now available, standard on EX and SX. The Premium Package available on Optima EX becomes its own model: Optima EX Premium. Pedestrian Detection is added to the standard Autonomous Emergency Braking on all trims (previously just on EX and SX).

Limited package on SX is cancelled, taking with it the availability of a Surround View Monitor, heated rear seats and rear window shades.

Optima SX gets a slightly more powerful battery: 760 cold cranking amps.

Automatic high beams are now standard on all models.

UVO telematics are now offered, standard on EX and above, it can call 911 through your cellphone if the aribags deploy. Other remote features are available through the system.

Optima Hybrid/PHEV

2020 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid

Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keeping Assist, Smart Cruise Control, forward collision warning and automatic braking are now standard. UVO telematics are standard, it can call 911 through your cellphone if the aribags deploy. Other remote features are available through the system.

Wireless charging of compatible smartphones is standard.

Heated rear seats are no longer offered.

Rio

2020 Kia Rio Hatchback

The new 1.6-liter engine (down 10 horsepower) and the new continuously-variable transmission (replacing a 6-speed auto) increase Rio's fuel mileage considerably. Now rated at 33 city and 41 highway, increases of 5 and 4 MPG, respectively. Manual transmission still not available.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now standard on all models.

Sedona

2020 Kia Sedona

No changes.

Sorento

2020 Kia Sorento L from kia.com

The Sorento gets a refresh to help it stand alongside its new big brother, the Telluride. New bumpers, headlights, fog lights and taillights bring a new look to the Sorento. The foglights on EX and SX are the biggest change: from four LED lights on each side to a single round projector LED on each side. This is the second consecutive year the Sorento has gotten a face-lift.

The LX V6 model is replaced by the S V6, including content from the LX Convenience package.

Eighteen inch wheels are discontinued, the L and LX are fitted with 235/65R17 tires and all other models get 235/55R19 on 19-inch wheels.

Forward Collision Avoidance (frontal collision warning and automated braking) is now available on Sorento LX as part of the LX Convenience Package; standard on S, EX and SX.

Heated second-row seats, heated steering wheel, rain-sensitive wipers, adaptive headlights and automatic high beams are no longer offered. A windshield wiper de-icer grid is no longer offered, but heated windshield washers are now a stand-alone option.

Soul

2020 Kia Soul X-Line

The Soul gets a very serious update for 2020, with a 1.2-inch longer wheelbase and an overall length up by 2.2 inches. In the engine bay, the 1.6-liter base engine is retired, replaced with a new 2.0-liter, high efficiency engine. The 1.6-liter turbo engine is still available. A 6-speed manual is still offered on the base Soul LX with the 2.0-liter engine. With the 2.0-liter the 6-speed automatic is gone, replaced by a continuously variable transmission. The 1.6 turbo is still backed up by a 7-speed dual-clutch sequential transmission. Fuel mileage is up across the baord.

The new trim levels include the first hint that Kia thinks of the Soul as competing with SUVs: the X-Line is a mid-level trim that includes aggressive sill mouldings and wheel-arch flairs in gray.

On the outside, new low-profile headlights make a big difference. The new taillights start horizontally in the liftgate, then straight up the C-pillar and then straight across the roof, integrating the third rear brakelight (CHMSL) into the design.

2020 Kia Soul EV

Sportage

2020 Kia Sportage

New front and rear fascias and bumpers spruce up this SUV mid-way into its life cycle. New headlights, fog lights and wheel designs are also introduced in the front and new oval exhaust tips are added to the rear.

A new "S" trim level nestles between the base "LX" and the "EX." All variants now get the larger 8-inch touch screen for the radio and infotainment functions as the 7-inch version is discontinued. A wireless charging tray for Qi compatible phones is now optional on S and EX, standard on SX Turbo. Satellite radio is no longer standard and isn't availabe on LX.

The engines stay the same, though fuel mileage improves slightly on most models.

Driver Attention Warning is a new, stadnard feature, which monitors driver attention and sounds an alert when the driver might be drowsy or distracted. High Beam Assist is now standard across the board, a system that can dim the high beams for approaching cars. Lane departure warning is now standard, and upgraded to Lane Keeping Assist, a system that helps keep the Sportage centered in the lane. Smart Cruise Control is now offered, standard on SX Turbo and optional on S and EX, it can bring the Sportage completely to a stop in heavy traffic. Another system that is upgraded and made standard, Autonomous Emergency Braking now includes pedestrian detection. Blind Spot Warning with Rear Cross Traffic Alert is now available on all models, including LX; it's standard on S, EX and SX Turbo.

Heated and power-folding outside mirrors are now available all the way down to the LX, standard on S, EX and SX Turbo. The power Smart Liftgate that opens automatically if you wait near the back with the keys in your pocket is now standard on EX; still standard on SX Turbo. The SX Turbo's new LED headlights no longer come with adaptive turning beams that the older high-intensity discharge lights offered. Leather is no longer standard on EX, but optional with the 8-way power front passenger seat.

Stinger

2020 Kia Stinger

The 2.0L, previously two trim levels, Stinger and Stinger Premium, is just one, now referred to as "GT-Line," sure to cause confusion with V6 models, which are called "GT." The GT-Line takes on design features of the GT, such as wheels, grille, bumpers and black chrome trim. All models get new wireless chargers for compatible phones.

Rear Cross-Traffic Warning is now standard. Driver attention warning, Forward Collision Warning, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warning, High Beam Assist, Smart Cruise Control, rain-sensitive wipers, electric parking brake, venitlated front seats, power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, memory seat and mirror, automatic dimming exterior mirrors and auto dipping exterior mirrors are all no longer available with the 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder.

Telluride

2020 Kia Telluride

The last Kia that fit this niche was the one-year, doomed Borrego. The Sorento has been Kia's largest vehicle, offering three-rows (though not for full-size adults) and seven passenger capacity. The Telluride promises to rectify all of that. Eight passenger, adult capacity is standard, with a full three-across thrid row and 1.8-inmches more headroom in that spot than the Sorento. Overall the Telluride has 24 cubic feet more passenger space than the Sorento.

In the engine bay, a 3.8-liter V6, Kia's largest, produces 291 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. An 8-speed automatic and front or all-wheel drive transfer power to the ground.

So far the Telluride has been awarded North American Utility of the Year, Car and Driver Top Ten status, Motor Trend Sport Utility of the Year and the 2019 IIHS Top Safety Pick.

 
 
 
 

2020 Maserati Model Year Changes
  
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Parallax1

Ghibli

2020 Maserati Ghibli S Large-16402-EdizioneRibelle100GhibliSQ4

A nearly $7000 reduction in price is the big news for the Ghibli for 2020. It applies to Ghibli, $70685 with destination, and Ghibli S, $75685 with destination. Ghibli S Q4 is now $78185 with destination. In addition to the lowering of the price, value is increased through additional standard equipment, including memory driver's seat, soft close front doors, 19-inch wheels with 245/45R19 front and 275/40R19 rear tires and automatic high beam assist.

A very limited special edition, "Edizione Ribelle" will be offered on Ghibli S Q4. Ribelle means "Rebel" in Italian... or it's a makeup brand, not sure which. The package is cosmetic and comprises a lustruous flat mettalic black paint unique to the edition as well as the Nerissimo Package: black chrome on most of the exterior trim. The wheels are also black but with bright red brake calipers to add a splash of color. Inside two-tone black and red leather, tridents stitched into the headrests and other touches make this a unique offering. Harmon Kardon sound system, heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats will be standard and a numbered carbon fiber plaque will show which version of the 100 made you own.

A new package available on all Ghibli is the GT Sport Package. Twenty inch wheels, gloss red breake calipers and the front and rear fascias of the higher-level GranSport gives a less expensive ($3490) way to achieve the meaner look. It doesn't include the adaptive "Skyhook" suspension, sport seats, or adaptive LED lights of the GranSport. GranSport adds $6800 to $7500 to the price of the Ghibli.

Torque is increased on Ghibli S, up 22 pound-feet to 428.

GranTurismo

2019 Maserati GranTurismo Zeda

Discontinued. The final car rolling off the line (for Eaurope) was dubbed the "Zéda," for the Italian letter "Z." This, they say, in anticipation of a new generation of electrified sports coupes and convertibles coming soon to replace them.

Levante

2020 Maserati Levante S Edizione Rebelle

Again, a major price decrease, more than $3000, is the headline. In this case the only the V6 models are discounted. Heated steering wheel, front and rear park sensors, blind spot alert, and rear cross-traffic warning are also now standard.

The Levante is also offered in an exclusive Edizione Ribelle: only 100 will be produced. Available only on the Levante S, it will have all the features of the Ghibli S Q4 Edizione Ribelle.

GT Sport Package is new, offering the looks of the GranSport trim at a savings of $2510 over the full treatment. Purchasers of the GT Sport package give up Sport seats, sport steering wheel a rear spoiler and body-colored side aredynamic sills. The GT Sport package comes with 21-inch wheels instead of the 20-inch wheels of the GranSport, though.

Quattroporte

2020 Maserati Quattroporte S Q4 Edizione Ribelle

Prices down $9000 to almost $14,000 from last year. Lane Keeping Assist, Forward Collision Warning, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Active Blind Spot Assist, Surround View Camera, Adaptive Cruise Control, Power rear sunblind, power trunk and a heated steering wheel are now standard.

The Quattroporte offers the most exclusive Edizione Ribelle: only 25 models will be made.

Torque is up in the S, 22 pound-feet to 428.

 
 
 
 

2020 Tesla Changes
  
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Teslas don't have model year change-overs where the cars are renewed or refreshed all on one timeline, but then these days, nobody else does, really. Here are all the changes for the Tesla models as compared to the 2019 calendar year. 

Model 3

2020 Tesla Model 3

The Standard Range entry-level model is no longer built, leaving the Standard Range Plus, at $39,990 (before tax credits) as the least expensive Tesla. The Mid Range and the rear-wheel drive Long Range are also gone, simplifying the line-up to: Model 3 Standard Range Plus, Model 3 Long Range Dual Motor, and Model 3 Performance. These have ranges on a full battery ranging from 250 to 330 miles. Performance models come standard with 20-inch wheels and have a 299-mile range.

Traffic Aware Cruise Control, heated front seats, heated side mirrors, Premium Seat Material, upgraded audio, HomeLink, Premium Connectivity, and power folding mirrors are all standard now.

Model S

2020 Tesla Model S

Another rung has fallen from the bottom of the ladder: previously all rear-wheel drive models were discontinued, now the entry-level 75D is gone from Tesla's website. Remaining 100D and P100D models have been renamed, following the nomenclature of the Model 3: Long Range and Performance. Range is up on both. The Long Range model is now EPA rated for 373 miles of maximum range, up from 335. This approaches gasoline car range, though diesels and hybrids still have much more range and of course gasoline cars can refuel much more quickly and in more places. 

Cold weather features are now standard: heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, heated windshield washers and heated wiper rests. The HEPA filtration system is now also standard as is XM satellite radio and Traffic Aware Cruise Control.

The two jump seats for children in the rear have been quietly removed as an option, making this a purely 5-passenger car.

Model X

2020 Tesla Model X

Model X also has its model names re-aligned and number of variations simplified. P100 becomes "Long Range" and P100D becomes "Performance." The 75D is no longer offered. Range is up: Long Range now 328 miles (previously 295); Performance is now 305 (previously 289).

Heated steering wheel, heated second and third row seats, heated washer nozzles, wiper defrosters, Traffic Aware Cruise Control, HEPA air filtration and satellite radio are now standard.

Model Y

2020 Tesla Model Y from tesla.com

(Picture screen captured from tesla.com)

Completing the standard completement of Tesla models, the Model Y is the junior crossover variant of the Model 3. Available in Long Range rear-wheel drive, Long Range a--wheel drive and Performance (AWD) variants, it uses the same combinations of motors as the Model 3, with the exception of the Standard Range Plus. It was initially announced that a Standard Range at a cost of $39,000 would be offered, but it is unclear if that version will become avaiable. The least expensive version on the Tesla website is (Long Range RWD) is $48,000 before any incentives. The federal incentives may no longer apply once deliveries start.

At least at this time, the Model Y will offer a standard Premium package, including 12-way power front seats, heated front, middle and third row seats, driver's seat, outside mirrors and steering wheel memory, automatic dimming, heated power folding side mirrors and more.

The Model Y will not utilize the controversial "Falcon Wing" rear doors that the Model X uses, nor will it have rear sliding doors, just conventional rear-opening doors. Standard will be seating for five with a 40-20-40 split folding rear seat. Two additional seats in a third row will be offered by 2021.

 
 
 
 

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