Autonomous Chevy Bolt Program Gets Billions In Backing

JUN 1 2018 BY MARK KANE 21

General Motors announced that SoftBank Vision Fund will invest $2.25 billion in autonomous driving subsidiary GM Cruise Holdings LLC (GM Cruise).

Tesla Autopilot

Cruise Automation Chevrolet Bolt EV with lidar

GM intends to begin series production of Cruise AV (autonomous Chevrolet Bolt EV) in 2019 and the investment from SoftBank Vision Fund brings those plans closer to large scale deployment.

Read Also – Tesla Director of Field Performance Engineering Joins Waymo

GM will invest $1.1 billion on its side upon closing of the transaction. GM Cruise Holdings is valuated at $11.5 billion.

With billions invested, the time until the robo-taxis enter service is near.

“The SoftBank Vision Fund investment will be made in two tranches. At the closing of the transaction, the Vision Fund will invest the first tranche of $900 million. At the time that Cruise AVs are ready for commercial deployment, the Vision Fund will complete the second tranche of $1.35 billion, subject to regulatory approval. Together, this will result in the SoftBank Vision Fund owning a 19.6-percent equity stake in GM Cruise and will afford GM increased flexibility with respect to capital allocation.

The GM and SoftBank Vision Fund investments are expected to provide the capital necessary to reach commercialization at scale beginning in 2019.”

GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra said:

“Our Cruise and GM teams together have made tremendous progress over the last two years. Teaming up with SoftBank adds an additional strong partner as we pursue our vision of zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion.”

Michael Ronen, managing partner, SoftBank Investment Advisers said:

“GM has made significant progress toward realizing the dream of completely automated driving to dramatically reduce fatalities, emissions and congestion. The GM Cruise approach of a fully integrated hardware and software stack gives it a unique competitive advantage. We are very impressed by the advances made by the Cruise and GM teams, and are thrilled to help them lead a historic transformation of the automobile industry.”

GM President Dan Ammann said:

“We’re excited to be joining forces with a tech leader who shares our belief that AV technology will change the world. We look forward to partnering with SoftBank as we work toward deploying this technology safely and in massive scale.”

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21 Comments on "Autonomous Chevy Bolt Program Gets Billions In Backing"

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GM stock got a nice shot in the arm. Up 13% yesterday.

Mary Barra is the Man…. haha! She really hit a home-run with that acquisition, pretty soon Cruise will be worth more then GM..

If they would spend billions to back a DC fast charge system, that would be something to talk about.

Buying Cruise was the best move they’ve made in years. Don’t expect too much more out of GM.

GM also bought Strobe Inc.

“Strobe’s new chip-scale LiDAR technology will significantly enhance the capabilities of our self-driving cars,” Vogt wrote. “But perhaps more importantly, by collapsing the entire sensor down to a single chip, we’ll reduce the cost of each LIDAR on our self-driving cars by 99%.”

Holy cow.

This is a lot better idea than the alternative.

Back seat drives now in the front?

OK; does this mean GM will produce more than 27K Bolts a year??

Probably not. GM will probably follow the Google/Waymo model, and use a limited number of test vehicles well-equipped with a variety of sensors, rather than Tesla’s more aggressive approach of deploying limited sensor systems and “beta” semi-self-driving software in its mass-produced cars.

In fact, I’m pretty sure I recall Mary Barra or some other GM spokesman expressing shock at how Tesla is doing autonomous driving development.

GM is, wisely, not claiming that Bolt EVs currently in production have all the hardware necessary for full, Level 4-5 autonomous driving. Contrary to what Tesla keeps claiming, I think that’s going to require lidar sensors. Or if not that, at least an array of high-resolution radar scanners, and Tesla’s production cars don’t have those, either.

Looks like it is going to be a 2 horse race for a while, waymo (google) and GM.

There are other horses the in the race, but Cruise and Waymo are the leaders, and now Cruise Automation is well funded to keep expanding the progress… Thats 3.35B committed, thats amazing… Self Driving is coming…

If the two leaders have a strong lead with the rest of the horses trailing in a pack far behind, then it’s a two-horse race even if there are other horses on the track. Perhaps that’s what Agzand meant, or at least what I took his comment to mean.

With Tesla falling further and further behind, his assessment of the field appears reasonable.

Tesla never had a chance, because they wanted to incorporate it on their production cars. Waymo and GM are starting with ride sharing applications, where cost is not a factor. You can put $50k of equipment on a car and it will still return that investment in a few months.

Yeah, these two will be the first to bring a reliable system to market, but don’t count out Nvidia, Intel, and all their partners, which pretty much is all the big luxury players.

Yes, this also means that SoftBank probably won’t fund other competitors (other than Uber, which they have a stake in). So this would make it harder for smaller competitors to catch up to Waymo and GM.

More like a one horse race with GM/Cruise all alone in second place. 18 months behind Waymo but still well ahead of the rest of the park.

Ha ha ha ! The only way to get to zero crashes, zero fatalities is with ZeroCars! Good luck with that Gm!

Maybe a 300+ mile range one will be coming soon.

The day where steering wheel is gone from the car, is the day I´ll stop owning a car!