The landmark investment will allow GM to deploy self-driving cars “at a massive scale.”
General Motors has announced Japan's SoftBank Vision Fund is investing $2.25 billion in GM Cruise Holdings, the company's self-driving car business. This landmark deal could accelerate the commercial deployment of self-driving cars. It's one of the largest investments to date in self-driving cars and shows the confidence SoftBank Vision Fund has in GM Cruise. GM President Dan Ammann said the investment will allow GM to deploy self-driving cars "at a massive scale."
An investment of $900 million will initially be made, with the remaining $1.35 billion to be paid out when GM Cruise's autonomous cars are ready for commercial deployment, which is expected to happen in 2019. In return, SoftBank Vision Fund will own a 19.6 percent stake in GM Cruise. GM will also invest $1.1 billion in GM Cruise upon closing of the transaction. "GM has made significant progress toward realizing the dream of completely automated driving to dramatically reduce fatalities, emissions and congestion," SoftBank investment adviser Michael Ronen said. "The GM Cruise approach of a fully integrated hardware and software stack gives it a unique competitive advantage."
GM will use the Chevrolet Bolt-based Cruise AV in its upcoming ride-sharing service, which is completely devoid of a steering wheel or pedals. The cars will start production at GM's Orion Township plant in Michigan next year, but it isn't clear where they will be deployed. Prototypes are currently being tested in San Francisco, Scottsdale, Arizona and Michigan, as well as Manhattan soon, so the production models will most likely be deployed in these locations initially.