Economy

GM to launch fleet of autonomous ride-sharing vehicles in 2019

GM to launch fleet of autonomous ride-sharing vehicles in 2019

General Motors is aiming to overtake rivals by launching a large-scale fleet of self-driving taxis by 2019. The automaker's president Dan Ammann reportedly said during the event that GM now makes about $30,000 per sold vehicle, but that it could make hundreds of thousands per vehicle through ride-hailing and delivery services.

"We believe this technology will have a profound impact on the world".

It has regularly announced big investments and progress reports, but the company has kept its prototype vehicles largely under wraps - until now.

GM chairman and chief executive Mary Barra said on the same call that the company is planning "the next chapter in our journey in the transformation that is happening in this industry".

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"We're committed to a future where we have zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion", Barra said.

GM announced in September that it was already preparing to mass produce a line of self-driving cars, and the following month the company revealed that it would be expanding its public road testing to include Manhattan.

For more than a year, General Motors has tantalized investors with plans to build its future around self-driving cars.

The news organization notes that after the Thursday afternoon presentation, GM's shares fell 1.8 percent, $43.04 per share.

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A self-driving auto in a ride-hailing or ride-sharing fleet could bring in far more revenue than a vehicle that's sold or leased. "The good news is we see a pretty clear path to how we can do that". Last year, the company acquired Cruise Automation, a San-Fransisco self-driving vehicle startup, to be part of its autonomous vehicle development unit. The vehicles are expected to be used as delivery vehicles, and to help transport people. Current LIDAR technology costs around US$20,000.

This announcement comes more than a month removed from GM's acquisition of Strobe Inc, a LIDAR technology company whose engineering team is now on GM's Cruise Automation team.

"The question is: 'Can GM deliver, and does Wall Street believe it?'"

But Barrie Kirk, the executive director of the Canadian Automated Vehicles Centre of Excellence (CAVCOE), said the federal government can do more to provide a regulatory framework and attract autonomous vehicle testing, such as what GM is doing in San Fransisco and Phoenix.

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