The Friday Five:The GM Insurance Guy, Electrification Takes Over the World, and Maybach Madness Edition

Liz Kim | Nov 20, 2020

In the absence of the Los Angeles Auto Show, which is regularly scheduled for this week of the year, automakers rolled out redesigns of the 2022 Honda Civic and 2022 Subaru BRZ. Jeep also bolted a big V-8 into the Wrangler, and other automakers announced changes big and small. In other news, and it comes as no surprise, a new study says that semi-autonomous driving technology leads to greater driver distraction.

But that's not everything that was happening in the automotive space.

I Always Feel Like GM is Watching Me

Just like cousin Rob at the annual family BBQ, General Motors announced it is getting into the insurance business. The endeavor, called OnStar Insurance Services, will bundle homeowner's and renter's insurance into an auto policy, providing similar coverage to what you likely already have.

General Motors Smart Driver Technology

Here's the catch, though. The automaker will be using the information collected from your GM vehicle about your driving habits to generate premiums. The automaker already installs Smart Driver technology in its products, an opt-in system that gathers data about your driving habits. People using Smart Driver and who exhibit safe behavior earn a claimed reward through lower insurance premiums. 

Smart Driver has been available as a part of OnStar connected car services for half a decade, monitoring more than one million drivers who have granted permission as they go about their daily driving. In total, there are more than 16 million GM drivers who use OnStar, which has fed 121 million gigabytes of data to GM since 2014, when onboard Wi-Fi first became available.

Of course, some traditional insurance companies have also been collecting your data for several years now, with your permission. So, this is not a new concept, and it's an idea you'll have to get used to in this connected age.

You Can Feel the Electricity in the Air

If the thought of such scrutiny of your driving, along with wacky California's announcement to ban the sales of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles by 2035, makes you daydream of renouncing your U.S. citizenship and relocating to another country where you have the freedom drive your gas-guzzler as recklessly as you want, you'll have to rule out some parts of the world. 

Great Britain just announced it would be banning the sale of cars with internal combustion engines (ICE) by 2030, intending to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050. Quebec, Canada targets 2035 for the demise of ICE cars, while Norway is ahead of the pack with a 2025 deadline. They're already well on their way, as six out of ten vehicles sold to Norwegians in the past year have been all-electric.

This is not an isolated trend. Numerous cities and countries are doing the same thing. So, if you want an ICE, ICE, baby, don't wait too long.

California's Discount Dreams

Speaking of wacky California, the Golden State announced it would make purchasing electrified cars more appealing by providing up to a $1,500 rebate on sales of all-electric vehicles and some plug-in hybrids. This is in addition to existing local and state incentives, which are among the most generous in the country. And don't forget about the federal tax credit, too.

Unlike the federal credit, which you'll receive only after you file your taxes and presuming you owe more tax than the value of the credit, California's new rebate represents savings you'll enjoy as you're signing the papers at the dealership. All electric-only vehicles get the full $1,500, while plug-in hybrids get a discount dependent on the battery's size.

Bigger, Faster, Luxurious-er EVs

You might be thinking that the gub'mint is limiting your future choice in a car, truck, or SUV. Still, once you've overcome the mental hurdle of switching to electric vehicles, the menu of available models is quickly expanding. Tesla's days of dominating high-performance EVs are very much numbered, as GM has announced that it will accelerate its vehicle electrification strategy to speed vehicles to market.

Rumors say Cadillac will now go fully electric by 2025, rather than 2030 as initially projected. The Cadillac Lyriq crossover SUV goes into production in just two years, followed by numerous electric Caddys with "IQ" in the name. Also, the highly anticipated GMC Hummer's arrival may come sooner. Both of these vehicles will provide more than 300 miles of driving range on a single charge, as well as stand-out performance. The GMC Hummer, for example, boasts a maximum of 1,000-horsepower. 

New Mighty Maybach Sedan Marches Forth

But don't worry, because outlandish ICE vehicles still await to fulfill your fantasies of sticking it to your high school meanies of yore. Consider the new 2021 Mercedes-Maybach S 580, the automaker's flagship sedan by a long mile. Think of it as an extra-festooned, extra-long S-Class, stretched by seven inches for more rear legroom and ornamented with the finest in animal hides and rare woods. Under the hood, a twin-turbocharged 496-horsepower 4.0-liter V-8 burns dead dinosaurs. Pricing has yet to be released, but if you've gotta ask, you probably can't afford it.

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