General Motors built a lot of hype around its purchase of Cruise Automation years ago. It followed Chevrolet Bolt EV self-driving car prototypes with a major announcement: there were plans to “commercialize” self-driving cars in 2019. Well, 2019 is here.
The company has gone very quiet after ramping up in late 2017 and throughout 2018 for what appeared to be a small-scale ride-sharing service featuring its self-driving cars. GM also planned to begin testing its self-driving cars in New York City, and even re-assigned its then-President, Dan Amman, to the division… but so far, nothing has come of the effort.
What’s the hold-up? Mike Ramsey, an automotive analyst for research firm Gartner Inc., said it’s likely not a matter of GM’s willingness to keep its self-driving car subsidiary on track, but a matter of spending copious amounts of cash to get the project off the ground. GM will need to do everything it takes to “get there.” Ramsey questioned if GM, as a whole, can do it.
However, GM has always maintained that its self-driving car operations will be guided by safety. The automaker will not roll out its autonomous vehicles until it believes they’re ready for prime time. In this case, it could be another example of overestimating how quickly the technology would be ready. Last week, both Ford and Uber downplayed self-driving car expectations well into the next decade. Ford, which plans for a self-driving car in 2021, said it would be relegated to a geofenced area on a small scale.
A GM Cruise spokesperson said the silent period from the company comes as it works to get the technology right.
Many experts agreed if GM does not roll out a self-driving car service this year, investors will forgive the company. After the 2018 incident that saw an Uber self-driving car prototype strike and kill a pedestrian in Arizona, the last thing GM needs is to portray the technology as unsafe.
Source: The Detroit News