Why Has General Motors Been in the Spotlight Lately?

Global automaker General Motors Company (GM) has been in the spotlight lately for both the right and wrong reasons. Shares were up slightly over 1% in early trading on Monday at the time of writing. (See General Motors stock charts on TipRanks)

Fire Safety Issues

General Motors had to recall its Bolt electric vehicles (2017-2019 models) for fire safety issues. On Friday, the company said it is recalling around 69,000 Bolt EV’s globally, including 50,925 in the U.S. after two fire incidents were reported.

Last year, in November, the company recalled Bolt EVs for the same issue and said that it had fixed the problem. However, at least one of the two new fires reported occurred in a vehicle that had already received the software update as part of the previous recall.

Additionally, earlier in the month GM and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) cautioned its EV Bolt users to park their cars away from their homes after charging and also advised them to avoid charging overnight to avoid potential fire risks.

GM and its battery maker LG Chem Ltd. said that they “identified the simultaneous presence of two rare manufacturing defects in the same battery cell as the root cause of battery fires in certain Chevrolet Bolt EVs.”

The recalled EV’s will first be inspected, and only cars having defective battery modules will be replaced. To avoid mishaps until the problem is resolved, GM advised customers to follow certain precautionary measures.

Customers need to limit their charging to 90%, recharge vehicles after each use, and wherever possible, recharge batteries when the vehicle hits 70 miles of remaining range. Also, customers should park their vehicles away from their homes after charging, as previously cautioned.

Moreover, customers who have not yet updated their EVs to advanced diagnostics software need to do so by visiting their dealers at the earliest.

GM Introduces New Super Cruise Features

On Friday, GM introduced its hands-free, auto-lane-changing Super Cruise features, which are expected to be available in the first quarter of 2022. Some of the models which will be equipped with Super Cruise technology include the Cadillac Escalade, Chevrolet Silverado, and GMC HUMMER EV Pickup, among others. The company plans to introduce the new Super Cruise technology in 22 models by 2023.

Introduced in 2017, the company has enhanced its Super Cruise technology’s features significantly and claims it is the “industry’s first true hands-free driver-assistance technology,” with over 200,000 miles of compatible roads across the U.S. and Canada for customers to enjoy their drives.

The technology is said to navigate the vehicles automatically for lane changes where feasible, with the required signaling protocols.

Additionally, the technology will enable customers to trailer their boats and campers while driving hands-free. Furthermore, vehicles with the Google Maps app will be shown where Super Cruise compatible roads are available during navigation.

Mario Maiorana, Super Cruise’s chief engineer said, “The additional Super Cruise-enabled vehicles and new features are an important step toward our goal of enabling hands-free driving 95% of the time and getting people more comfortable with letting go of the wheel.”

On Saturday, Reuters reported that GM filed a trademark infringement case against Ford Motor Company (F) for use of the word “Cruise” in its auto-driving system called “Blue Cruise”. GM’s lawsuit mentioned that Ford’s usage of the word “Cruise” confuses customers with its Super Cruise hands-free driving technology.

Despite the series of vehicle recalls and related safety issues, GM stock commands a Strong Buy consensus rating based on 14 Buys and 1 Hold. The average General Motors price target of $74.73 implies 36% upside potential to current levels. Shares have gained 113.8% over the past year.

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