29 October 2016
General Motors’ autonomous roadmap looks very different than most automakers’. The number one car manufacturer in the US want to keep driverless vehicles out of the hands of owners. At least initially. Just like Uber, GM is focusing on ride-sharing to introduce self-driving cars to the outside world.
While most automakers are racing to get more semi-autonomous and driverless features installed in their cars and into the consumer’ hands (look at Tesla, BMW or Nissan), GM’s deployment of self-driving cars will most likely happen in a controlled, ride-sharing environment, CEO Mary Barra said last Monday during the automaker’s third quarter earnings conference call. Furthermore she explained the reason behind the company’s alliance with on-demand ride service Lyft and the launch of its car-sharing program Maven.
General Motors’ autonomous roadmap will start by ride-hailing, with initial self-driving cars that can be ordered by consumers on demand. These cars will have speed limitations and operate only within restricted geographic boundaries, Barra said. “That’s why the ownership will stay with the company in these first models as we continue to learn” she said. “And that path is very much on track.”
In short, GM initially plans to deploy self-driving cars as a service, not sell fully autonomous vehicles to private individuals. This aligns with GM’s activity over the past 18 months, including a partnership and $500 million investment in ride-hailing start-up Lyft. GM now has 30 self-driving all-electric Chevrolet Bolt vehicles that it’s testing on public roads in Scottsdale, Ariz., and San Francisco.
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