General Motors (GM) turbocharging efforts to win the self-driving-car race with an acquisition.
General Motors (GM) said Friday it has turbocharged its efforts to win the self-driving-car race with an acquisition.
The automaker — which is competing against tech giants Google and Apple in the race, not to mention other car companies — said it had purchased San Francisco-based Cruise Automation, a software company dedicated entirely to self-driving car technology.
The Detroit-based manufacturer declined to say how much it paid for the startup, which has backing from Silicon Valley venture investors Y Combinator and Signia Venture Partners.
“Fully autonomous vehicles can bring our customers enormous benefits in terms of greater convenience, lower cost and improved safety for their daily mobility needs,” GM President Dan Ammann said in a statement.
The deal carves out a new lane GM in California’s burgeoning self-driving technology sector, where rivals Ford Motor, Tesla, Toyota and others are also operating.
GM CEO Mary Barra has vowed to keep the automaker ahead in the self-driving car race, acknowledging that the company must be agile and willing to adapt its business model to survive the coming revolution in the auto industry.
The company recently invested $500 million in ride-sharing firm Lyft with plans to eventually introduce a fleet of autonomous vehicles. GM is already testing self-driving versions of the Chevrolet Volt semi-electric vehicle on its sprawling Tech Center campus in Warren, Mich. The company also plans to introduce automated technology that allows a new Cadillac to steer itself on the highway later this year.
Cruise Automation will operate as an independent, San Francisco-based unit within GM’s recently formed Autonomous Vehicle Development Team, led by Doug Parks, one of Barra’s long-time confidants.
GM expects to close the deal in the second quarter.
“GM’s commitment to autonomous vehicles is inspiring, deliberate, and completely in line with our vision to make transportation safer and more accessible,” said Kyle Vogt, founder of Cruise Automation. “We are excited to be partnering with GM and believe this is a ground-breaking and necessary step toward rapidly commercializing autonomous vehicle technology.”
Of course, the race is far from over. GM global product chief Mark Reuss said the company plans “to invest significantly” in Cruise’s team.