GM planning to launch self-driving vehicles
Automaker says it expects commercial launch in 2019
DETROIT » General Motors Co. expects to carry passengers and deliver goods with self- driving vehicles in big cities sometime in 2019, telling investors it’s moving quickly and plans to be ahead of other automakers and tech companies.
The Detroit automaker made the announcement at an investor presentation in San Francisco Thursday, saying that based on its current rate of change, it expects “commercial launch at scale” of the autonomous vehicles within the next year or so. The vehicles would not have a human backup driver, the company said
Company executives didn’t say how many vehicles GM would deploy or what cities they would be in, but theywere clear that the company plans to run ride-hailing and deliv- ery services and quickly make money off them — at higher profit margins than it now makes from selling cars and trucks.
“This business is potentially bigger than our current core business,” Chief Financial Officer Chuck Stevens told the group.
GM said it is important to be first to get the self- driving electric vehicles on the road so the rider experience can be improved quickly and give the company a competitive advantage. GM said there still was much more difficult engineering work to do. And it’s not quite clear yet whether the auto maker will be first.
Delphi, an automotive supplier, has said it expects commercial vehicles to be using its autonomous system in limited. areas in 2019. Delphi recently bought autonomous software startup NuTonomy and is also partnering with BMW AG, chipmaker Intel Corp. and camera and visual recognition software maker Mobileye.
Google’s Waymo division is testing self-driving minivans in Phoenix, carrying passengers without a backup driver in the front seat. An employee in the back will be able to stop the vehicle by pushing a button but won’t be able to steer the vehicle. Waymo plans to announce a commercial service in the next few months.
German automaker Daimler AG has teamed upwith supplier Bosch to develop autonomous taxis by 2020. And Ford plans to have a self- driving car available for ride-hailing services by 2021.
GM President Dan Ammann said thefirst commercial use of EVs would be in ride-sharing. He wouldn’t say if the service would involve ride-hailing company Lyft, in which GM has invested $500 million. More details, he said, would come closer to 2019.
“This business is potentially bigger than our current core business.” — Chief Financial Officer Chuck Stevens
A self-driving Chevrolet Bolt EV that is in General Motors’ autonomous vehicle development program appears on display at GM’s Orion Assembly in Lake Orion, Michigan.