With the 2020 Cadillac CT4, GM begins to expand its hands-free Super Cruise driving system – gpgmail


GM’s high-end brand unveiled Thursday the 2020 Cadillac CT4, a sporty and small sedan that is designed and priced to attract younger buyers looking to enter the luxury car market.

The vehicle’s debut also marks an important expansion for GM’s hands-free driver assistance system, Super Cruise. The hands-free driving system has been lauded for its capabilities; it’s also been criticized because of its severe limitations. Today, Super Cruise is available in just one Cadillac model, the full-size CT6 sedan. And even in the CT6, the system is restricted to certain highways.

Super Cruise uses a combination of lidar map data, high-precision GPS, cameras and radar sensors, as well as a driver attention system, which monitors the person behind the wheel to ensure they’re paying attention. Unlike Tesla’s Autopilot driver assistance system, users of Super Cruise do not need to have their hands on the wheel. However, their eyes must remain directed straight ahead.

GM is finally starting to expand where the system can be used and bringing it to more models. Earlier this year, the company said it will add another 70,000 miles of compatible divided highways in the United States and Canada to the existing system via a software update. By the end of the year, Super Cruise will be available on more than 200,000 miles of highways.

The automaker plans to bring Super Cruise to other GM brands, such as Chevrolet, GMC and Buick, after 2020.

The expansion follows other improvements rolled out in 2018, including adding a dynamic lane offset so that a CT6 with Super Cruise activated can adjust slightly over in its lane for driver comfort when passing large vehicles. Gauge cluster messages were also added, to inform drivers why Super Cruise may not be available in certain instances.

Super Cruise isn’t the only feature of note in the 2020 Cadillac CT4 model. Cadillac is offering the CT4 in a few trim levels, all of which will have turbo engines. The standard version will have an eight-speed transmission and a 2.0 turbo-4 engine that generates 237 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque.

The CT4-V, the premium luxury version of the CT4, will have a 2.7-liter turbo-4 engine with a 10-speed automatic transmission.

The CT4 will come with unique grilles and bright exterior accents to distinguish the CT4 luxury and premium luxury models. The Sport and V-Series models are differentiated by darker accents and “performance-inspired” details, including unique grilles, fascias, rocker extensions, rear spoiler and exclusive performance design wheels, Cadillac said.

Every version of the CT4 will have LED exterior lighting, including headlamps, tail lamps and signature vertical lights at all four corners.

Cadillac 2020 CT4 Sport 023

The interior of the 2020 Cadillac CT4.

Inside the car, drivers will find an eight-inch touchscreen that is mounted prominently in the center of the instrument panel. GM’s new digital platform, which can handle over-the-air software updates, is integrated into the CT4, as well.

“We developed CT4 to appeal to youthful buyers in the luxury market who may be new to the Cadillac brand,” said Andrew Smith, executive director of global Cadillac design. “The vehicle was intended to draw attention, using a combination of great proportions, taught surfacing and Cadillac family details that hint at the athletic driving experience this vehicle offers.”


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Hurricane Bonus: Tesla, GM Unlock More Range, OnStar Services


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Legend had it that cool, rainy weather made dad’s carbureted car run smoother. In 2019, there is one automotive advantage to rainy, stormy weather: Automakers are unlocking or freeing up features to customers affected by Hurricane Dorian.

Tesla will unlock free Supercharger access, unlock the software-limited range ceiling on some cars, and force-charge PowerWall batteries to full power. General Motors will provide enhanced OnStar services for anyone with a digital-technology OnStar system (2006-present), and give lapsed OnStar customers free service for the duration of the storm. And now that OnStar is no longer the only telematics game in town, others will probably match GM and OnStar crisis assistance programs. Based on past hurricanes, automakers will likely offer discounts of, say, $1,000 if you have to replace a storm-damaged vehicle.

Assuming your car still has power, the car’s rooftop antenna and more powerful radio transmitter allow for better call quality and more distant connections in case the most current cell tower isn’t functioning. Cars with Wi-Fi hotspots allow owners to email or text relatives to show they’re safe and then turn to social media to show everyone how bad the storm is where they live.

Tesla Powerwall. (Does your garage look like this?)

“Why Is Tesla Crippling My Range?”

Hurricanes lead Tesla to take a multi-point approach to owner assistance. This hurricane — Dorian, the one that stalled over Bermuda before turning its attention (as of Tuesday) to the US coastal seaboard as far north as the Carolinas — is getting a similar response.

First, Supercharger stations are unlocked in storm areas. You don’t pay for electricity during the storm, as long as there is electricity at the Supercharge site. This may lead to longer lines as Tesla people flock to top off their vehicles. Our advice is simple: If have power at home, charge there! It’ll cost you a couple of bucks, but if you own a Tesla, even a Model 3, it’s a rounding error on your lease or purchase payments. Leave the Supercharger stands to apartment dwellers, or those fleeing north or inland. See Elon Musk’s shortest-ever tweet, below (shortest unless he ever told someone No in a tweet):

In addition, Teslas with a more powerful battery embedded than buyers actually paid for, will have the full power and range available for the duration of the storm. For instance, Tesla Model S and Model X 60D vehicles were sold at a price commensurate with having a 60-kWh onboard. But it’s actually a 75-kWh battery software locked down to 60 kWh. Similar, standard range Tesla Model 3s have had a software-locked 220-mile range while the Model 3 Standard Range+ has a 240-mile range. They’ll get the additional range for the storm duration. Think of it as a short-term superpower. This software-capped-capability situation annoys Tesla chuckleheads who miss the point: You paid for 60 kWh (Model S, X) or 220 miles (Model 3), so be happy you’re getting 8-24 percent more range for a week, to let you outrun the storm. The correct response to Tesla is “thank you, Saint Elon,” not “class action lawsuit.”

Finally, if you have a Tesla Powerwall at home, Tesla remotely enabled the Powerwall Storm Watch feature. Basically, it makes sure the batteries are fully charged at all times. A home with solar that charges Powerwall might use power-company electricity at night to ensure the batteries are full. People with new Powerwall systems should — in a power-failure condition — not treat them as they might a backup generator with an assured supply of natural gas or propane. A US home on a normal day uses (roughly) 10 kWh to 25 kWh of power. Powerwall 2, $5,900, is rated at 13.5 kWh. Tesla marketing says it’s good for a week … if it’s hooked to a solar array. In reality, it’s good for 1-2 days if you want to use air conditioning, an electric stove or an electric dryer. Using only the bare minimum of lights and appliances, doing without A/C, shutting off the garage refrigerator, you might get 3-5 days.

Some automakers such as Nissan have reverse charging with EVs. In Japan, a Leaf can supply power to the Leaf that most of the year drew power from the Leaf. So far, it’s not a feature in the US. When it happens, the emotional value of EVs will increase. So long as you have a full battery when the storm hits.

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Inside Voyage’s plan to deliver a driverless future – gpgmail


In two years, Voyage has gone from a tiny self-driving car upstart spun out of Udacity to a company able to operate on 200 miles of roads in retirement communities.

Now, Voyage is on the verge of introducing a new vehicle that is critical to its mission of launching a truly driverless ride-hailing service. (Human safety drivers not included.)

This internal milestone, which Voyage CEO Oliver Cameron hinted at in a recent Medium post, went largely unnoticed. Voyage, after all, is just a 55-person speck of a startup in an industry, where the leading companies have amassed hundreds of engineers backed by war chests of $1 billion or more. Voyage has raised just $23.6 million from investors that include Khosla Ventures, CRV, Initialized Capital and the venture arm of Jaguar Land-Rover.

Still, the die has yet to be cast in this burgeoning industry of autonomous vehicle technology. These are the middle-school years for autonomous vehicles — a time when size can be misinterpreted for maturity and change occurs in unpredictable bursts.

The upshot? It’s still unclear which companies will solve the technical and business puzzles of autonomous vehicles. There will be companies that successfully launch robotaxis and still fail to turn their service into a profitable commercial enterprise. And there will be operationally savvy companies that fail to develop and validate the technology to a point where human drivers can be removed.

Voyage wants to unlock both.

Crowded field


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How top VCs view the new future of micromobility – gpgmail


Earlier this month, gpgmail held its annual Mobility Sessions event, where leading mobility-focused auto companies, startups, executives and thought leaders joined us to discuss all things autonomous vehicle technology, micromobility and electric vehicles.

Extra Crunch is offering members access to full transcripts key panels and conversations from the event, including our panel on micromobility where gpgmail VC reporter Kate Clark was joined by investors Sarah Smith of Bain Capital Ventures, Michael Granoff of Maniv Mobility, and Ted Serbinski of TechStars Detroit.

The panelists walk through their mobility investment theses and how they’ve changed over the last few years. The group also compares the business models of scooters, e-bikes, e-motorcycles, rideshare and more, while discussing Uber and Lyft’s role in tomorrow’s mobility ecosystem.

Sarah Smith: It was very clear last summer, that there was essentially a near-vertical demand curve developing with consumer adoption of scooters. E-bikes had been around, but scooters, for Lime just to give you perspective, had only hit the road in February. So by the time we were really looking at things, they only had really six months of data. But we could look at the traction and the adoption, and really just what this was doing for consumers.

At the time, consumers had learned through Uber and Lyft and others that you can just grab your cell phone and press a button, and that equates to transportation. And then we see through the sharing economy like Airbnb, people don’t necessarily expect to own every single asset that they use throughout the day. So there’s this confluence of a lot of different consumer trends that suggested that this wasn’t just a fad. This wasn’t something that was going to go away.

For access to the full transcription below and for the opportunity to read through additional event transcripts and recaps, become a member of Extra Crunch. Learn more and try it for free. 

Kate Clark: One of the first panels of the day, I think we should take a moment to define mobility. As VCs in this space, how do you define this always-evolving sector?

Michael Granoff: Well, the way I like to put it is that there have been four eras in mobility. The first was walking and we did that for thousands of years. Then we harnessed animal power for thousands of years.

And then there was a date — and I saw Ken Washington from Ford here — September 1st, 1908, which was when the Model T came out. And through the next 100 years, mobility is really defined as the personally owned and operated individual operated internal combustion engine car.

And what’s interesting is to go exactly 100 years later, September 2008, the financial crisis that affects the auto industry tremendously, but also a time where we had the first third-party apps, and you had Waze and you had Uber, and then you had Lime and Bird, and so forth. And really, I think what we’re in now is the age of digital mobility and I think that’s what defines what this day is about.

Ted Serbinski: Yeah, I think just to add to that, I think mobility is the movement of people and goods. But that last part of digital mobility, I really look at the intersection of the physical and digital worlds. And it’s really that intersection, which is enabling all these new ways to move around.

GettyImages 1129827591

Image via Getty Images / Jackie Niam

Clark: So Ted you run TechStars Detroit, but it was once known as TechStars Mobility. So why did you decide to drop the mobility?

Serbinski: So I’m at a mobility conference, and we no longer call ourselves mobility. So five years ago, when we launched the mobility program at TechStars, we were working very closely with Ford’s group and at the time, five years ago, 2014, where it started with the connected car, auto and [people saying] “you should use the word mobility.”

And I was like “What does that mean?” And so when we launched TechStars Mobility, we got all this stuff but we were like “this isn’t what we’re looking for. What does this word mean?” And then Cruise gets acquired for a billion dollars. And everyone’s like “Mobility! This is the next big gold rush! Mobility, mobility, mobility!”

And because I invest early-stage companies anywhere in the world, what started to happen last year is we’d be going after a company and they’d say, “well, we’re not interested in your program. We’re not mobility.” And I’d be scratching my head like, “No, you are mobility. This is where the future is going. You’re this digital way of moving around. And no, we’re artificial intelligence, we’re robotics.”

And as we started talking to more and more entrepreneurs, and hundreds of startups around the world, it became pretty clear that the word mobility is actually becoming too limiting, depending on your vantage where you are in the world.

And so this year, we actually dropped the word mobility and we just call it TechStars Detroit, and it’s really just intersection of those physical and digital worlds. And so now we don’t have a word, but I think we found more mobility companies by dropping the word mobility.


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