GM Cruise LLC is now being referred to as an “autonomous vehicle ride-sharing company” by General Motors, reinforcing the automaker’s goal to launch an autonomous rideshare service in the United States sometime next year. That goal isn’t so different from the strategies being employed by rivals in the autonomous vehicle space, including Ford Motor Company, which has set a 2021 target date for the launch of its own self-driving cab service.
Needless to say, however, a 2019 launch date is a whole lot more ambitious.
Calling GM Cruise an “autonomous vehicle ride-sharing company” could perhaps be considered an act by GM of counting its chickens before they’ve hatched. Before it’s allowed to happen at the sort of scale GM hopes for, the automaker will have to reach a satisfactory level of completion with its fully-autonomous driving technology. But just as important, the U.S. Congress will have to roll out the legislative carpet, and some experts fear that a particularly promising bill currently being hammered out in the Senate might fail to pass before the impending Congressional turnover this January.
That would force Congress to throw the bill out and start over again from scratch, potentially throwing a wrench in General Motors’ ambitious rideshare service plans.
Granted, even if GM Cruise’s plans are delayed, the odds are stacked in its favor. The General Motors subsidiary’s valuation today stands at around $14.6 billion U.S. – about a third of GM’s total valuation – thanks in part to some recent big-money investments from the likes of Honda and Softbank. Outside of these investments, GM figures that by the end of the year, it will have spent about $1 billion on Cruise Automation through 2018, with much of that sum covering development, hiring, and accumulating test miles/data.
The GM Cruise AV – Cruise Automation’s first production-intent car model – was unveiled early this year, lacking a steering wheel, brake and accelerator pedals, and other traditional driver controls.
For all the latest Cruise Automation news and murmurings, stay tuned to GM Authority.