The race to deliver autonomous driving at scale is picking up as the technology company Softbank is investing 2.25 billion dollars in GM Cruise, the General Motors subsidiary specialising in self-driving cars.
The investment will take place in two payments. The first will see 900 million dollars flow to GM Cruise. The other 1.35 billion will follow as soon as the self-driving cars are market-ready. After the transaction, GM themselves will also invest another 1.1 billion in Cruise.
GM already announced an autonomously driving version of its Chevrolet Bolt, without a steering wheel or pedals in January. In 2019 the vehicle manufacturer plans to begin serial production of the vehicle. The construction of the necessary roof modules has already begun in the Brownstown factory.
The Google subsidiary Waymo has meanwhile announced their plans to expand their fleet of self-driving vehicles with up to 62,000 new Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans. In January, the initial statements had more abstractly spoken of “thousands” of new self-driving vans. The delivery of the new vehicles will begin at the end of 2018.
Fiat-Chrysler is not the only manufacturer delivering vehicles to Waymo. In March, Jaguar Land Rover announced that Waymo had ordered 20,000 autonomous Jaguar I-Pace for their fleet. The vehicle will begin its testing phase this summer.
Update, October, 4: GM Cruise has found another potent partner in Honda. The Japanese have taken a stake in GM’s self-driving vehicle operations as they invest $2.75BN. GM CEO Mary Barra said Honda will provide expertise and support GM Cruise in their “global reach and the ability to deploy at-scale.”