When GM talks about vehicle platforms, it doesn’t just mean sheetmetal anymore

General Motors took an unusual step in moving its vehicles forward this week. It happened when GM president Mark Reuss debuted the company’s all-new electronic platform necessary for its next-generation of vehicles, EVs, active safety, infotainment and connectivity features, and the evolution of the Super Cruise driver assistance feature. The aim of this complex process is for GM’s worldwide vehicle fleet to reflect the corporate goals of zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion.

As car people, we’re hardwired to think about vehicle “platforms” solely in terms of a stamped and welded metal floorpan and the attendant powertrain components. In today’s automotive world, that mindset is becoming increasingly archaic. GM’s electronic platform, as it’s dubbed internally, anticipates the additional digital bandwidth and electronic connectivity that will be required as vehicles become ever smarter and move inexorably toward driving themselves, whether any of us like it or not. This isn’t Back to the Future stuff, either: GM’s prototype electronic platform is an integral part of the just-unveiled 2020 Cadillac CT5 sedan. It goes into market production later this year, and the new platform is expected to be integrated into all GM vehicles by 2023. The technology powers an electronic system, capable of managing up to 4.5 terabytes of data processing power per hour, a fivefold increase in capability over GM’s current electrical architecture. With an expanded capacity for smartphone-like over-the-air software updates, the system enables the adoption of functionality upgrades throughout the lifespan of the vehicle. The new architecture also provides more rapid communications within the vehicle itself and to outside sources thanks to Ethernet connections of 100Mbps, 1Gbps, and 10Gbps. If this all sounds like some kind of disconnected noise to you, don’t let it. Embrace it. This is the future of the car and it’s coming sooner than we think.

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