CarsDiva’s Blog

An Auto Industry Insider’s View…From A Woman’s Perspective

Posts Tagged ‘General Motors’

Pick-up Trucks, A Leading Lady… and “Glamping”

Posted by carsdiva on June 19, 2013

A true “car girl”, honored by Automotive News as being one of 100 leading women in the North American auto industry— meet Jully Burau.  Burau is General Motors’ Chief Engineer for all full-size [light duty and heavy duty] trucks.  Her passion for the auto industry began at a young age, and she credits this back to her father’s influence growing up.  Burau was hired by Buick when she graduated in 1980 and the rest is history.

Oh and then there is “glamping.” Wanna know what it is?  Check out the video for the inside scoop and learn a bit more about Jully.



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Siri, Can You Integrate With My Car?

Posted by carsdiva on December 6, 2012

I’m a bit behind on posting about the integration of Siri into vehicles, however, given the recent announcement by General Motors at the Los Angeles Auto Show, I found it a fitting time to elaborate on the topic.  Apple announced back in June at their World Wide Developer’s conference that they were working with several auto manufacturers to build-in Siri, the “Eyes Free,” voice-activated technology featured on the iPhone.  At [that] time, they were in discussions with General Motors, Chrysler, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Land Rover, Jaguar, Audi, Honda and Toyota.



So What’s the Good Word?

BMW expects to have Siri integrated into their vehicles by mid-2013, to complement their “ConnectedDrive” system.  They’ve been known to be on the forefront of technology, specifically as it refers to voice-command and the integration of smartphones, (like the iPhone).  This integration would allow drivers to interact with their iPhone, via Siri, tune to their favorite music, send a text, create reminders, set alarms, and create events. (Like many other vehicles, you can already make voice-activated phone calls.)

Mercedes-Benz  had mentioned earlier this year that they expected to introduce the integration of Siri with their future [European] A-Class models.  Users would plug in their iPhone (4S or higher) and access an MB app.  This would provide access to everything on the phone, using Siri, while allowing them to keep their hands on the wheel.  I find it to be an intelligent move, as despite the laws and penalties meant to prevent texting while driving, I still see people doing it all the time!  (And I drive a lot…that’s an understatement.)  Mercedes did confirm that they would not implement a specific “Apple” button, but would continue to use their own.

And it’s been confirmed!  GM officially announced that they will integrate Siri early next year, beginning with the Chevy Spark and the Chevy Sonic.  So how will it work?  Well, users will have to connect their iPhone via Bluetooth, and then use the voice-activated button on the steering wheel to access Siri’s “Eyes Free” mode.  This will allow them to do things like make a call (which is already possible through the MyLink infotainment system,) switch audio sources and play

Chevrolet © 2012

Chevrolet © 2012

songs from the iTunes library, send a text message, and access the calendar and make appointments.  While Siri will answer questions, the line is drawn if the answers are “complex”, requiring a web page to display.

Cristi Landy, Chevrolet’s Marketing Director for small cars said, “…Siri’s Eyes Free capability will be available in the Spark and Sonic well before the luxury brands.  Safe, easy, reliable and portable connectivity is a top priority for our customers, and Siri complements MyLink’s existing capabilities to help deliver an incredible driving experience.”

Maybe, maybe not…

As to some of the others– Honda, Chrysler, Toyota, Land Rover, Jaguar, Audi and Toyota, say they’re working on the integration, or there may be future potential, or they have not commented on the subject matter.  Stay tuned for further information.

There’s been quite a bit of talk about banning the use of mobile devices all together while operating a motor vehicle, but hey, let’s be realistic— smartphones have become an integral part of people’s daily lives.  Not going to happen.  I think a work-around or alternative is a bit more likely to surface, and the facts speak for themselves.  Trends in the auto industry tend to have a domino effect. “Lead and they will follow…”

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See It, Saw It….SEMA 2012

Posted by carsdiva on November 5, 2012

After two days of walking [part of] the over 2 million square feet of exhibits, I was exhausted and my feet were swollen…but it was well worth it!  To give you a bit of background, SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association), the auto industry’s premier specialty products trade show in the world, attracts more than 100,000 people and it’s not open to the general public– it brings in auto industry people from the all over the world.  The show is held at the quintessential adult play-land– none other than Viva Las Vegas, at the Las Vegas Convention Center.  (I mean really, what other destination would attract so many car guys and gals?) Here are a few of the highlights from my experience, (the show is so massive so my apologies, I didn’t get to see it all,) and lots of pics:

SEMA 2012

For those of you that don’t know, the SEMA award is awarded to those vehicle models that are viewed by specialty equipment manufacturers as the best platform to accessorize, and also showcase the year’s coolest products.  Kudos to Ford, for being honored with two awards– the “Hottest Car” award went to the Ford Mustang & the F-Series was chosen as the “Hottest Truck.”  Other recipients included Scion FR-S (Hottest Sport Compact), Jeep Wrangler (Hottest 4×4-SUV).  And speaking of Jeep, how about that recent auto-industry targeted commercial from Romney?  Struck up a bit of controversy, to say the least.  But enough about that…

EF-65 hand cleaner— AMAZING. Tried and tested. I heard the whole story from the guy behind the product, and it was quite compelling nonetheless (more to follow at a later date).  In the meantime, to give you a brief overview, I did watch him scribble ink on a piece of velour, then use the product to remove the stain in a matter of seconds.  (I almost felt like I was part of an infomercial.) Plus, it’s eco-friendly– buzz word in of the moment in every industry.  Therefore it’s non-toxic, biodegradable, good for your skin, and won’t dry it out. Admit it guys, I know the latter may be more appealing up front to the ladies, but you don’t want dry hands either– and the “ladies” in your life sure don’t want your hands to be dry. Furthermore, I received a sample, so of course I tried it when I got home to really see the action (i.e. mysterious red stain on my carpet that wouldn’t come out for nothing).  And guess what, it worked….carpet is now white again, and my hands are still soft.  So yes, it’s also multi-functional.  Made in the USA, it’s a gem in the garage, but fabulous for everything else too.

GoPro—  I’m sure most of you have read the recent articles on the launch of the HERO3, and the excitement at their SEMA booth was not disappointing. The HERO3– the major showcase, is 25% lighter, 30% smaller, and features WiFi capabilities, and the most coveted “Black Edition” offers ultra-wide angle HD video streaming at 1080p-60fps, and captures 12MP (megapixel) photos at 30 photos per second.  Silver and white editions offer a more affordable price point. In the GoPro booth, you could find the rest of the on-fire line of GoPro products, celebrity autograph signings, giveaways, and so forth.  It was huge, and at any point you walked by the vicinity, there were tons of people milling around.

Ford— Inside the convention center, Ford took up an entire wall of one of the halls, showcasing their latest models, customized and accessorized to the max, and outside, you could find “Ford Out Front.” Featuring their current star drivers and racing vehicles, in this area were also high-performance drivers drifting and doing all kinds of tricks to keep you entertained.

General Motors— Seeing the much anticipated debut of the Chevy Camaro Hot Wheels Edition— the first-ever, production Hot Wheels vehicle, was exciting in itself, and brought me back to my childhood.  Then outside, between the South and Central Halls, General Motors had quite the ensemble set up with their proving ground, giving attendees the opportunity to take a hot lap in vehicles like the Chevy Camaro and the Chevy Corvette, amongst others.  Unfortunately the line was super long and I didn’t have time to wait, but I sure did smell the tires burning all day!

And now for the best part… the pictures.  Enjoy!

Oooh La La Ferrari….showcasing Seibon carbon fiber.

It wouldn’t be Vegas without the showgirls presenting Ford with an award.

Vehicles of the future…driving themselves.

Kia and DC Entertainment = superhero themed cars

One of the KIA “superhero” themed cars.

All-new Ford Fusion!

Ford F-Series receives the SEMA Award for “Hottest Truck”

The GM Proving Ground– checkout the Chevy Camaro and the Chevy Corvette….

Quite the Dodge display- red carpet all the way.

Ford showcases a classic!


This guy seemed pretty excited to be here….

Check out the paint job and the rims on this Cadillac!

And one of my favorites- the Audi R8….

Miss Painless Performance….what exactly that refers to, I’m not sure.

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Have you been SYNC-ed yet?

Posted by carsdiva on January 11, 2011

No, I’m not referring to your kitchen amenities–  I’m talking about Ford Motor Company’s hands-free entertainment and communications system.

For you ladies that like to talk on the phone while driving- be it gossiping with your girlfriends, checking in with the kids, or taking care of business, this technology could be a life-saver, and in many cases now, prevent a costly ticket.  And gentlemen (and ladies) that like to conduct business calls on the road, well this too benefits you.  But in all seriousness, it’s truly a game-changing innovation for the auto industry that is altogether becoming a necessity.  And I’m not talking simply convenience here, but more importantly, safety.

Did you know that according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,  drivers that are talking on the phone are 4 times more likely to get into an accident?  And the delayed reaction time caused by cell phone usage is as great as having a blood-alcohol level of .08! You all know what I’m talking about here– you see that person that slows down, cuts you off, or somehow aggravates you on the road (often causing road rage or unneeded stress), and when you pull up next to them, lo and behold, 95% of the time, they’re on their phone and not paying attention to the road.  Irritating, no?  (My blood pressure would probably drop a few notches if this was eliminated.)

So what does SYNC include?  Well, first off, as you may have guessed, hands free use of your mobile phone.  The system, built on a Microsoft platform, syncs with a Blue-tooth enabled phone and allows the user to make and receive phone calls while driving, by simply using basic voice commands.  The “entertainment” aspect of SYNC includes the USB feature, which allows the driver to plug in their flash drive, iPod, or other compatible music device into the vehicle’s USB port, and pick and choose their music simply with voice prompts.  Added in 2009, 911 Assist, a key safety feature when turned on, will automatically place a call to 911 in the event of airbag deployment or if the fuel cut-off switch is triggered, therefore ensuring that emergency vehicles are dispatched in the event of an accident where the driver is unconscious, or unable to place the call themselves. Vehicle Health Reports give the vehicle owner the ability to run a diagnostic report of the vehicle after creating an account on, with the intent of promoting more regular vehicle maintenance.  And recently added for convenience and entertainment, is option called “SYNC Services”, which include things like turn-by-turn directions, sports updates, news, live traffic, stock quotes, even movie listings, …. (and the list goes on.)

The main competition at this point is General Motor’s OnStar system.  Albeit different than SYNC, both systems are based on the same concept of allowing drivers to talk hands-free while operating their vehicle, and in essence promoting safer driving.  Although OnStar was introduced to the market long before Ford’s SYNC system, the recent turmoil of the industry, coupled with GM’s bankruptcy allowed Ford to jump ahead of the game and lead the way in providing more advanced technology.

Some of the major differences?  GM charges a $199 annual subscription fee for their built-in mobile device. (In essence the vehicle itself acts as a phone that OnStar operates through, whereas SYNC connects with the driver’s own mobile device.)  Ford’s price points are significantly less, costing the consumer a one-time fee of about $395 to have the SYNC system installed in the vehicle, and for the basic communication and entertainment features, including 911 Assist, no additional charges.  For those that would like the additional SYNC Services features, like live sports updates, turn-by-turn directions, live traffic, weather, movie listings, and so forth, the service is free for 3 years, and then to continue the subscription after that period, a $60 annual fee is required.

In any case, automotive retailers are finding that BOTH systems are being seriously considered during vehicle purchases.  If we can prevent unnecessary accidents, and in some cases fatalities, due to distracted driving, then we all benefit.

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Chevy Camaro joins the Premier Christmas Shopping List

Posted by carsdiva on October 21, 2010

Tis’ the season….well almost.  Ladies, as many of you are aware, the high-end department store, Neiman Marcus, puts together an annual fantasy Christmas catalogue.  Not for the stingy, the items are carefully selected to create a unique wish list of “His & Hers” gifts, and each year, this list includes a limited edition automobile, specially designed for the luxury retailer.

2010 marks the 50th Anniversary of the “His & Hers” list for the annual NM Christmas Book, and boasts items no less extravagant than previous years.  The tradition began in 1960 by Stanley Marcus, son of one of the original Neiman Marcus founders, who challenged his team to create a unique and newsworthy catalogue for their customers.

This year’s vehicle joins the ranks of BMW and Jaguar from past catalogues but hits closer to home.  The 2010 list presents the iconic, all-American muscle car– General Motor’s Chevrolet Camaro.  Although regular production will begin in 2011, the uber-trendy and able, had the opportunity to purchase the limited edition rag-top Camaro, well in advance.  Designed exclusively for Neiman Marcus, production is limited to a quantity of 100 vehicles.

The 2SS model boasts a 6.2L V8 engine, with the option of a 426hp, 6-speed manual transmission, or a 420hp, 6-speed automatic transmission.  LED Halo-Ring headlamps and an exclusive tri-coat exterior paint in “Deep Bordeaux” with ghosted stripes provide ultimate distinction.  The bordeaux convertible top is highlighted with a silver painted windshield, and the interior is no less luxurious, featuring amber leather with brilliant red accents on the center console, steering wheel and shift knob.  And let’s not forget the XM Satellite radio that projects through the Boston Acoustics premium sound system.

And the price tag?  A mere $75,000.  Reservations began promptly at noon on October 19, 2010 and ended shortly thereafter– 3 minutes to be exact.  Only (1) vehicle was permitted per [qualified] customer.  Sorry ladies, this was one gift you had to jump on if you were interested.

A bit of an extravagant gift for the masses, perhaps.  But then again, it wouldn’t be on the exclusive NM list if it wasn’t. I know it would make my Christmas rather “merry”…

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What’s Going on in Spring Hill, TN??? So that’s how cars are made….

Posted by carsdiva on March 20, 2008

Last Monday, March 9, I had the opportunity to be hosted (yet again) by General Motors in Spring Hill, TN, where I took my very first ever tour of a manufacturing plant. The tour of the plant (which is currently preparing for the production of the 2009 Chevrolet Traverse) was interesting and definitely informative…(which you will see from the video clips that will be up on CarsDiva soon.)

Before we took the actual tour, we sat through a short presentation, where I got to see and listen to Ed Pepper, Chevrolet General Manager, and Don Butler, Executive Director- Chevrolet Truck Marketing. The enthusiasm and pride of GM was very evident and motivating, and justified by the great products that keep rolling into the market (thanks to the legendary Bob Lutz!)

Here are some interesting facts about the Spring Hill manufacturing site and Chevrolet as a precursor to the videos:


  1. Spring Hill, TN is located 40 miles south of Nashville
  2. Opened in 1990; shipped over 3.752 million vehicles to date
  3. Home of SATURN, and now in preparation to launch the 2009 Chevrolet Traverse
  4. 6.86 million square feet
  5. 3,981 employees

Spring Hill Manufacturing Plant, home of Saturn

Other Interesting (Chevrolet) Facts I learned on the trip:

  1. Chevrolet was founded on November 3, 1911
  2. Chevrolet is named after racing driver, Louis-Joseph Chevrolet (who together with William C. Durant, co-founded the brand)
  3. 700 songs in history have used “Chevy” in the lyrics
  4. Every 7.2 seconds a Chevrolet vehicle is sold worldwide

 Spring Hill Manufacturing Plant, home of the Chevy Traverse

Stay tuned to get an inside preview of the Spring Hill plant!!!  

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GM Makes History…

Posted by carsdiva on February 25, 2008

2008 Chevy Impala, fleet car of the yearAutomotive Fleet announced on February 18th, that their 2008 Car and Truck of the year were both General Motors vehicles.  Both the Chevy Impala (3rd year in a row), and the Chevy Silverado beat out all other cars and trucks to conquer the number one spot.  2008 Chevy Silverado, fleet truck of the yearGM has made history as the first auto maker to win both awards in the same year.       

Will the upward trend continue for the domestic auto giant?  Stay tuned and the CarsDiva will keep you informed….  In any case, congrats to you GM!

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