GM Gives All Its Vehicles a New Soul

General Motors’ latest offering is so far from sexy, it doesn’t even have a clever name created by the marketing department via focus group. But the new “electronic platform,” the computing network that will run through nearly all the company's vehicles and make their myriad digital systems work, is as key to the automaker’s future as any single feature, or even vehicle. It’s the infrastructure that will let GM compete in an industry increasingly ruled by software—and give its customers all the high-tech goodies they’ve come to expect, from high-res screens to booty-shaking safety features. “It’s the brain and nervous system of the vehicle,” says Al Adams, GM’s director of electrical components and subsystems, who led its development. Think of …

Uber’s Underwhelming IPO, Lyft Earnings and More Car News This Week

Finally, after much ink spilled and many hours prognosticating, it happened: Uber started trading on the stock market. On Friday, after Uber execs rang the bell at the New York Stock Exchange, it was off to the races, and… not the greatest news for Uber. Instead of popping, Uber trended down for much of the day, ending nearly 8 percent below the $45 IPO price. The big question for potential buyers: Is Uber even a functional business yet? Or will it have to pull off the tricky task of building autonomous vehicle tech and putting its human drivers out of work to reach profitability? (Not coincidentally, some of those drivers went on strike this week to demand better wages and …

Cruise’s $1 Billion Infusion Shows the Stakes in Self-Driving Tech

For an industry that has yet to scale a commercial product, the folks building self-driving cars sure have raised a lot of money. The latest eye-popping investment comes via Cruise, the San Francisco-based autonomous vehicle unit that is mostly owned by General Motors. The company announced Tuesday that it had raised $1.15 billion, at a valuation of $19 billion—roughly one-third of the valuation of GM, despite not having sold a single car. The infusion comes from one new investor, the global asset management firm T. Rowe Price Associates, plus existing partners GM, Honda, and the Softbank Vision Fund, which poured $2.25 billion into the self-driving unit a year ago. Cruise says it has raised $7.25 billion in the past year, …

LAs Plan to Reboot Its Bus SystemUsing Cell Phone Data

The gray buses that roll along Los Angeles' Orange Line don't look like other buses: They're 60 feet long, and their streamlined design means they don't just stop. With some pomp, they arrive. They dock. And today, on a drizzly Sunday, nearly every seat on the Orange Line is taken. The route connects the northwest corner of the San Fernando Valley to a Metro Rail station in North Hollywood, 18 miles and about an hour away. It's perhaps the country's best example of “bus rapid transit,” a grade of service that's supposed to combine the best features of a trolley line with the relative cheapness of a bus. People dig it. Today, the woman next to me is speaking quietly …

Safety-Obsessed Volvo Goes After Distracted, Speedy Drivers

Volvo has had it up to här with drivers. The Swedish carmaker has spent decades building a reputation based on safety (and low-key luxury), but humanity’s taste for speeding, distraction, and impaired driving remains a threat no airbag, semi-autonomous system or moose-detection system can neutralize. So this week, Volvo announced a raft of potentially controversial initiatives that will help deliver on its Vision 2020 goal—no more deaths or serious injuries in its new cars—by making its customers behave. After announcing a few weeks ago that it will limit the top speed of all its new cars to 112 mph, Volvo will roll out efforts to eliminate impaired driving, keep young drivers in check, and help its competitors benefit from its …