Right now, it’s anyone’s game in the self-driving car field. Numerous automakers and technology companies claim to be in the lead, but no clear favorite has emerged just yet. Arguably, General Motors and its Cruise Automation subsidiary, and Alphabet’s Waymo are front-runners.
Behind the scenes, though, GM and Cruise think they’re building a “strong competitive advantage” that could force some out of the market. That’s what Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt told media and investors during a GM meeting surrounding self-driving cars last week, according to Automotive News.
“This is a differentiated product. A company is developing it, and if you are sufficiently more advanced than others in the industry, they may not be able to compete,” Vogt said.
GM CEO Mary Barra presented a broad outline of self-driving vehicle news to investors during the conference in which she said GM will deploy fleets of autonomous cars sometime in 2019. However, they’ll only be operable in “dense urban areas” to start. A key goal is to reduce the cost of operating self-driving cars, too. Right now, it costs about $3 per mile; GM wants to bring the cost down to $1 per mile by 2025.
Many GM executives echoed a similar ethos: self-driving cars will likely one day eclipse its core business of building and selling vehicles, and it could return higher margins. That vision will start in 2019. Where it will end is unclear.