GM expects to launch autonomous ride-sharing within 2 years

General Motors plans to launch commercial autonomous vehicles at scale within two years as it reduces the costs of self-driving technologies and moves into service-based operations such as ride sharing.

(c) Reuters

The automaker expects to deploy the fleets in “dense urban areas” by 2019, GM President Dan Ammann said during an investor event Thursday in San Francisco. Revenue from the fleets, he said, is forecast to be in the billions soon after launch.  Ammann’s comments and others during the presentation were the first public confirmations that GM plans to enter ride-sharing against the likes of Uber and Lyft, which the automaker invested $500 million in last year and Ammann holds a board seat.

GM did not specify where the fleets will launch. The company is currently testing a third-generation of self-driving vehicles based on the Chevrolet Bolt in San Francisco; Scottsdale, Ariz.; and Warren, Mich. It has plans to begin testing in New York City next year. Ammann said GM expects to the cost-per-mile of its autonomous ride-sharing vehicles under $1 by 2025 — a key, he said, to achieving profitable scale. The current cost in a city such as San Francisco, according to Ammann, is more than $3, including $2.50 for the passenger.

“We see a pretty clear path on how we can do that,” he told investors, citing GM’s plans for “Rideshare 2.0” with autonomous vehicles that don’t require paying drivers a majority of their revenue. He added that riders won’t have to talk with drivers, listen to music they don’t want to listen to and eliminate “creepy driver syndrome.”

Ammann said the lifetime revenue generation of one of its self-driving cars could eventually be in the “several hundred thousands of dollars” compared to $30,000 on average that GM collects today, which mostly comes from the initial sale.

GM Chief Financial Officer Chuck Stevens said its mobility services could be “potentially bigger” than its current core business, with better margins. Helping GM’s confidence with launching the fleets are advancements in its self-driving technologies and reduction in costs, including a next-generation lidar that will cost about $10,000 — roughly half of the $20,000 or so the automaker is paying now, according to Kyle Vogt, CEO of GM’s self-driving Cruise Automation unit.


Source; Automotive News