Soon after announcing a future rollout of autonomous Bolts to New York City, General Motors has laid out its plan for autonomous ride-sharing to investors, and while only general details are available at the moment, we have learned some interesting tidbits about GM's plans.
GM over the past several months has regained its status as the largest USA automaker by market capitalization over electric luxury auto maker Tesla Inc.
Ford announced in September it is working to develop a similar autonomous ride-hailing fleet by 2021 with US-based Uber rival Lyft. "With ride-hailing services, consumers are saved from sticker shock of how much an EV costs - and the cost of automation in early years is going to be expensive, too".
GM is trying to create self-driving cars that need minimal maintenance and upkeep, like aircraft that hold up well to constant use, Vogt says. He wouldn't say if the service would involve ride-hailing company Lyft, in which GM has invested $500 million. The Detroit automaker's testbeds for the self-driving Bolt are in Warren, San Francisco and Scottsdale, Arizona.
GM hasn't yet said whether it will operate the service itself or pair up with the likes of Uber or Lyft, which it invested $500 million in past year.
That will help to drive the consumer to adopt it, which is vastly important to achieving profitability.
It expects robo-taxi services to be the main use for its self-driving vehicles. The cars have a back up driver in case something goes wrong, but it is possible the back up drivers would be eliminated when the commercial launch happens in over a year.
"Large automakers typically aren't so bullish with their announcements, so GM likely recognizes the opportunity to establish leadership by committing to this very specific short-term goal", Jessica Caldwell, automotive analyst for Edmunds, wrote in an emailed statement.
GM's self-driving arm - Cruise Automation - is also finding ways to cut costs in the development phase. The autonomous vehicle team at Cruise is growing by roughly 900 employees to 2,100 workers by early 2018. After the afternoon presentation, shares of GM fell 1.8 percent to close at $43.04 while the broader markets ended higher.