General Motors Paves Future: Chevy Bolt, Cruise Automation, Maven, And Lyft

5 months ago by Steven Loveday 38

Chevy Bolt

A Chevy Bolt from the Maven fleet.

General Motors says it’s all set with the building blocks for a future of mobility.

Like all automakers, GM spends a vast majority of its time and money designing and manufacturing cars. However, and especially as of late, the innovative automaker is making sure that it’s ahead of the curve when it comes to the future of mobility services, which are potentially more important.

Self-driving car expert, Peter Kosak, deals specifically with the GM’s global “urban-mobility initiatives.” He explained, in reference to the company’s acquisition of autonomous-vehicle startup, Cruise Automation:

Chevrolet Bolt

General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra shows autonomous Chevrolet Bolt outfitted by Cruise Automation.

“We have certain core capabilities. But we have to be honest about not having certain capabilities.”

Aside from overcoming the challenge of diving deep into artificial intelligence, and being in the self-driving race to win, Kosak said that GM took the risk in acquiring Cruise, primarily to speed things up:

“To some extent it’s also just the clock speed that a company like Cruise operates at. It’s very, very different. It’s very fast … Cruise acquisition was one of the most significant indicators for how serious we are as a company, from my perspective”

GM has since invested $14 million toward Cruise’s R&D pursuits, will add 1,100 new related jobs, and already has over 50 “Cruise-fitted” self-driving Chevrolet Bolts testing on public roads.

Additionally, the automaker has invested $500 million in ride-sharing company, Lyft, and is continually expanding it’s own mobility startup, Maven. Kosak added:

“These are all puzzle pieces that will come together, ultimately, and that’s an essential.”

No other major automaker has taken so many steps, and in such a short time period. GM is making it clear that mobility is a key ingredient, and it’s willing to plan well in advance. The company believes that these decisions put it well ahead of the competition. Kosak concluded:

“It’s really hard to integrate an automobile. Some companies are beginning to discover that. It is really hard, and it takes a lot of work. It takes a lot of institutional learning and a standardized approach to development.”

“We’ve shown a willingness to experiment and make investments. We’re now distributing fleets of vehicles and maintaining fleets of vehicles, and developing business models around pricing and targeting communities.”

“So we’re learning about transportation as a service and how people actually access it, how they value it and how they use it as a supplement to ownership or an alternative to ownership.”

Source: WardsAuto

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38 responses to "General Motors Paves Future: Chevy Bolt, Cruise Automation, Maven, And Lyft"

  1. Warren says:

    It is pretty remarkable how far they have come, looking back at the original DARPA Challenges. I remember the first ones on PBS NOVA, when the vehicles got stuck leaving the starting area.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DARPA_Grand_Challenge

    1. Mdstj says:

      I remember when Catapillar entered a huge Machine about the third or fourth year for DARPA. Just going a few miles was a huge success.

  2. stimpacker says:

    Yet despite the constant barrage of the fantastic autopilot progress GM has made with the Bolt and the billion dollar Cruise acquisition, no production Chevy Bolt has autopilot hardware and just need a software update to enable it.

    How is that going to be a Tesla killer?

    1. Dan says:

      Read the article. When auto-pilot truly takes off, they will be used for ride sharing with Maven and Lyft. Most cars today idle in driveways for 95% of the time. Car ownership rates will plummet when automobiles -as-a-service really takes off. The market that Tesla is going for – self driving luxury cars – will likely still exist as a niche, boutique space for rich people. Chevy is likely not looking to compete there.

      1. ffbj says:

        It’s speculation to say car ownership rates will plummet. As we have already seen, are in the midst of, peak car.
        Plummet is not very specific. Ownership rates will fall but how much and how fast is anyone’s guess.

        No Tesla is going to be a leading player in the self-driving space for less expensive vehicles too. For instance the Model 3. They have said so, too.

        1. Dan says:

          The disruption caused by ride share, which has already decimated the taxi industry, is well ahead of the disruption caused by electrification (still barely at 1%). Even if electrification fails, the end state of the automobile industry as a retail operation is pretty much foregone. Waymo (aka Google car) is already piloting in Phoenix and should start rolling out nationally well before the model 3 reaches peak production. Truly disruptive technologies tend to decimate the incumbent model in asymmetric and exponential ways. That today is more true of Uber and Lyft than the linear growth of the electric industry.

          1. Dav8or says:

            Yes and then you grow a little older, get married, start a family, realize the hip urban centers of the country are BS, move out to where life is actually good and realize that riding around in taxi cabs everywhere you go is actually pretty lame and inconvenient. You also start to not care so much for strangers throwing up on the floor and carving their gang symbols in the dashboard of your “shared” car.

            Private car ownership is not doomed, nor is it being “killed”.

            1. Dan says:

              Sorry to hear that there is so much gang symbols and puking going on in your neighborhood 😀. I happen to live in a city filled with families and a strong community. Also, Why do you think that cities are only for the hip and single? 70% of the US lives in a metro area. I can already track my kids on a school bus app as they get back from school. Is it that big of a stretch to think that I can dispatch them to after school activities in different directions in separate autonomous ubers without having to play chauffeur???

              1. Dav8or says:

                You do all kinds of things right now. There are people that only use bicycles for their transportation with little trainers behind them. There’s nothing stopping you from sending your kids off in Uber cars right now.

                My point is, it’s absurd to think private car ownership will die out just because of autonomous driving cars. You may have the hate on for car ownership, but hundreds of millions others do not. Uber and Lyft have been around now for years and just last year, car sales in the US hit a historic high and over 17 million cars sold. All Uber and Lyft have mostly done is hurt the taxi industry.

                Will car sales decline due to autonomous driving vehicles? Yes, it’s likely it will go down some. Will they be decimated? No way. Will this all come to pass as soon as the Model 3 hits the streets? Not a chance. We are still years away from your utopian future of empty front seats driving people in back seats around.

                1. GSP says:

                  Decimated = 10% drop. The term comes from eliminating one out of every ten soldiers. It is not such a big reduction, unless you are part of the one in ten, or his family.

                  This seems to be a likely post “peak car” sales rate.

                  GSP

        2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          “It’s speculation to say car ownership rates will plummet.”

          I’d say it’s nothing more than wishful thinking by “green” tech advocates.

          Whether the car has a human driver or a robotic one, the reason people buy cars is to have them available whenever they want or need to use them. That’s not going to magically change just because the car is capable of driving itself. The biggest change I expect to see is a lot more car ownership by the elderly and disabled, where the car will replace a chauffeur. Oh, and the job of “taxi driver” will mostly disappear.

          1. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

            It’s not wishful thinking. Affordable autonomous systems would change the balance of cost and convenience that pushes people into car ownership.

            And, really, really importantly, in an autonomous taxi you wouldn’t have to drive. If you want that in a car you own you’ll not only have to pay for a whole vehicle, you’ll have to pay for the autonomous system as well.

            Add ride-sharing would lower taxi costs even more. Uber and Lyft’s ride sharing schemes are already quite popular where offered. Ride-share taxis will beat mass transit unless mass transit also adjusts. And of course, if mass transit adjusts it would be faster and more convenient than it is now.

            There’s every reason to think that affordable autonomy would devastate the used car market and low end of the mainstream market as the cost-benefits shift.

    2. ffbj says:

      It’s not.

    3. Neromanceres says:

      Simple. GM doesn’t like to use their customers as beta testers.

      They will release this to the public when they feel it’s ready.

  3. Dave86 says:

    Interesting that Insideevs would run such an article today. Just yesterday I was thinking that if there is a car company not named Tesla I’d like to own stock in, it would be GM.

    If I’m not mistaken, Mark Reuss recently said that GM has their own battery chemistry. This is significant because in the near future a core competency of automobile companies will be battery technology.

    GM is also building a battery factory in China. In the future car companies, like Tesla, will need their own battery manufacturing capability.

    While GM frequently frustrates me for not being more aggressive with vehicle electrification (no supercharger network), they are ahead of all other car companies not named Tesla.

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Dave86:

      “If I’m not mistaken, Mark Reuss recently said that GM has their own battery chemistry. This is significant because in the near future a core competency of automobile companies will be battery technology.”

      Presuming that’s true, it may or may not mean anything. Companies patent tech all the time that never gets used. Just because GM “has its own battery tech” doesn’t mean it’s actually in production, no does it indicate that it’s in any way superior to the tech that actual battery manufacturers have.

      1. Dave86 says:

        Interesting. I wonder how the SEC would respond to a high level GM official making claim to GM’s having a technology that – as it turns out – isn’t good enough to go into a product. And GM has to go outside the company to acquire that technology.

        I suspect Reuss knows better than to make such a claim.

  4. F150 Brian says:

    Must be hard for all those who post here about the dinosaur automakers to read this about GM:

    “…the innovative automaker is making sure that it’s ahead of the curve when it comes to the future of mobility services.”

    “No other major automaker has taken so many steps, and in such a short time period.”

    Oh wait, they will just ignore it like all of the other signs that they’ll adapt and survive.

  5. Four Electrics says:

    GM is killing it. Their only problem is that the Bolt is a not an aspirational brand, like the Tesla. EVs are not revolutionary, so they need to be sexed up to compensate for the loss of freedom and anxiety that comes with electric–even in a 230 mile car.

    1. Kdawg says:

      They need a new ‘sexy’ brand for their EVs. Shake any bad taste in the minds of people over traditional GM brands, whether justified or not.

      1. Neromanceres says:

        Maybe they should relaunch Oldsmobile 🙂 (Just Kidding).

        Or how about Hummer?

        Though more seriously Pontiac might be a good brand for EV’s. Some might say Saturn but I think that bird has flown for good.

        1. Kdawg says:

          I’m thinking something totally new.

          1. SparkEV says:

            How about LaSelle?

      2. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

        It would help if they seemed like they care.

    2. Dave86 says:

      Volt & Bolt both should have been given better styling and badged as Buicks.

      Where I come from, ‘Chevy equals Camero’ and that’s not a good thing. GM doesn’t understand how weak the Chevy brand is in some places.

      1. Dan says:

        Chevy sells about 180k cars a month in the US. That’s more than Tesla’s cumulative sales since inception. Yep. Weak brand.

        1. Dave86 says:

          Where I’m from – Oregon & Washington high tech industry – absolutely no one drives a Chevy.

          We’re the very people GM wants for customers. ($100k plus incomes) We rarely buy used cars, by the way.

          There’s about 500 cars in the parking lot where I work. High industry, of course. Redmond, Wa. It will be interesting to see how many Chevys – if any – I count tomorrow. (Okay… I know of 2 Volts…)

          1. Dan says:

            Pardon us East Coast folk. Where is Oregon on this map, again? It’s on the other side of the Hudson, I’m guessing.

            http://www.mappery.com/map-of/A-View-of-World-from-9th-Avenue-Map

            1. Dave86 says:

              GM’s target customers for the Chevy brand are people living only east of the Hudson???

              1. Dan says:

                Not really my intent. You seem to have a grandiose view of your little 2 company town (MSFT, AMZN) when in reality, even the fast growing tech corridor of Dallas is bigger than Seattle and Portland put together. I just pointed out that from other perspectives, for example from Manhattan like in that photo, Seattle and Portland are not even in the realm of most people’s consciousness – you guys are mostly a roundoff error when compared to Silicon Valley or the Texas triangle or the Acela corridor. There aren’t really all that many 100k earners in your neck of the woods when compared to the rest of the country, especially when compared to the boom towns in CA or TX. If I were you, I would buy an air ticket to the rest of the country that you seem to be sorely misinformed about.

          2. Dan says:

            Lol. I had to look up the data. Oregon is 29th out of 50 states for per capita income. I’m pretty sure GM is shaking in their boots about losing all those 100k earners.

            https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_by_income

      2. Dav8or says:

        Yes, those tiny places are little insulated bubbles where EV enthusiasts live and believe that they can clearly see the future better than anyone else.

  6. Sam Shephert says:

    With what GM has done I will never own one of their products again no matter how good it might be.

    1. Dav8or says:

      Good for you! Stick it to the man!! Ooooh… you got ’em now!!

    2. Goaterguy says:

      Yeah and with what VW and Porsche did, I will never own a German car, with what the Japanese did, I will never own one of their cars, I step on some dog poop last week so I will never use my legs again…

  7. Peter says:

    Great products from GM ahead. But European car makers are not sleeping. The fight is on thanks to Tesla.

  8. Rainer says:

    I have driven a 2017 Volt for 3 months now. I live in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. We have full blown winters here with vicious freeze thaw cycles that chew up our roads and create potholes and pavement humps and depressions everywhere. I have found the Volt to be the most solid vehicle I have driven here in the last 20 years, including Toyotas and VWs I have owned
    A well built car in my opinion & I haven’t bought gas in the last 2 months (1500 miles)

    1. VoltOn says:

      The Volt, both gen 1 and 2, has been one of the best “feeling” and “driving” cars of its size on the road. And considering incentives it receives, one of the cheapest too.

      Many have blinders on to this…

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