GM’s New Digital Platform Makes Your Car More Like a Smartphone

  • Nick Jaynes has worked for more than a decade in automotive media industry. In that time, he's done it all—from public relations for Chevrolet to new-car reviews for Mashable. Nick now lives in Portland, Oregon and spends his weekends traversing off-road trails in his 100 Series Toyota Land Cruiser.

can be reached at nickjaynes@gmail.com
  • Nick Jaynes has worked for more than a decade in automotive media industry. In that time, he's done it all—from public relations for Chevrolet to new-car reviews for Mashable. Nick now lives in Portland, Oregon and spends his weekends traversing off-road trails in his 100 Series Toyota Land Cruiser.

can be reached at nickjaynes@gmail.com
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Over the next decade, software will become the automotive industry’s hottest battleground. And General Motors aims to lead that fight.

  • General Motors is looking to be the industry leader with its news digital platform, which debuted on the CT5 earlier this year.
  • The new platform will be spread across all of GM’s products by 2023 with a final goal to achieve: zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion.
  • It functions as digital nervous system for tEV propulsion, active safety, infotainment, connectivity, and Super Cruise.
  • GM is one of the industry leaders in automotive cyber-security, having its own in-house department focused on keeping bad guys out of your car’s digital systems.
  • In the future, your car will receive over-the-air updates, keeping your car technologically current, longer.

This morning, GM revealed the overarching details of its all-new electrical platform for its vehicles. In short: GM’s digital vehicle platform will make it the leader in over-the-air (OTA), advanced cybersecurity of any full-line automaker.

Although it debuted under the skin of the all-new Cadillac CT5 earlier this year, we are just now getting a glimpse under the hood, so to speak. The new electrical platform will be spread across most of the company’s portfolio by 2023. This, in the aims to achieve zero crashes, zero emissions, and zero congestion.

The electrical platform is essentially the digital nervous system for the General’s electric-vehicle propulsion, active safety, infotainment, connectivity, and Super Cruise automated driving systems. What’s more, it ties all these systems in with one another with lightning-fast speeds. The platform is capable of processing 4.5 terabytes of data per hour. Onboard Ethernet connections allow the systems to communicate up to 10 gigabytes per second.

“The critical role of software and its importance to our vehicles, both now and for years to come, cannot be overstated,” GM President Mark Reuss said in a prepared statement. “Our new digital vehicle platform and its eventual successors will underpin all our future innovations across a wide range of technological advancements, including EVs and expanded automated driving.”

Nearly all of GM’s vehicles will include the brand’s new digital vehicle platform by 2023. | Photo: General Motors

 

What does this mean for you and perhaps your next car (if it’s a GM product)? Well, the first thing is that your vehicle will be available with more advanced features — both safety and infotainment. And thanks to OTA updates, you can add more features throughout your ownership. Plus, the features you do have will be continually and seamlessly updated and improved.

I don’t just mean improved safety systems and software (though, those will be updated, too). No, GM brands will even offer engine, transmission, and other propulsion updates and upgrades. I don’t yet know if that means you’ll be able to buy more horsepower for your car through electronic control unit (ECU) upgrades. However, it might.

If OTA updates and upgrades sounds like a scary cybersecurity threat, try not to worry. General Motors was one of the first automakers to launch its very own in-house Cybersecurity Organizations. It is tasked with seeking out weaknesses within its own systems and shoring them up. This, with the goal to protect against unauthorized access to vehicles and customer data. Essentially, GM doesn’t want one of its vehicles to get hacked and shut down remotely, like happened to a Jeep in 2015.

Thanks to the digital platform, Super Cruise will be implemented across more vehicles in the GM family of brands, including Chevrolet, Buick, and GMC. Furthermore, the system affects even minute details, like allowing for the installation of in-dash screens with higher resolution. Since the GM vehicles will be updatable much like smartphones, it makes sense to include higher resolution touchscreens inside them.

If nothing else, the overarching takeaway you should leave with is that GM doubling down on automated driving and electrified vehicle propulsion. It wants to continue to be a pioneer and leader in connected and electric vehicles. And GM brass and engineers know that — like smartphones — software, features, and updates come a lot faster than the hardware can be reasonably updated or swapped out. Like Tesla, if engineers can gift your electric car with additional range over night, GM wants to be able to.

So, rather than sell you a new car every year (à la Apple), GM would rather keep your car up to date — and secure — over the air. This new ultra-fast and connected digital vehicle platform helps achieve that.


About the Author

  • Nick Jaynes has worked for more than a decade in automotive media industry. In that time, he's done it all—from public relations for Chevrolet to new-car reviews for Mashable. Nick now lives in Portland, Oregon and spends his weekends traversing off-road trails in his 100 Series Toyota Land Cruiser.

can be reached at nickjaynes@gmail.com
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