General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) and Lyft Inc. will introduce a batch of autonomous Chevrolet Bolt electric taxis on the United States roads. The new joint strategy seeks to defy tech giants in Silicon Valley such as Google, aiming to reform the vehicle market. The service will be tested with clients in the U.S.
Months ago, the car manufacturer invested $500 million in Lyft, an Uber competitor based in the United States. The ride-hailing company is currently valued at $5.5 billion. The new plan will also make use of technology provided by Cruise Automation Inc., a developer of self-driving software previously purchased by GM.
More details about the self-driving taxi network will be announced in upcoming months, said a Lyft executive to The Wall Street Journal. It appears that Lyft’s customers will be able to select if they want an human pilot or not, when requesting a taxi service from the mobile app.
GM also expects to attract Lyft workers to acquire all-electric Bolt vehicles. The latter offers an estimated of more 200 miles of range per charge and can be obtained for $30 thousand, after federal tax credit. It’s worth mentioning that GM is the third world’s largest automaker.
Self-driving taxis move closer to reality with GM, Lyft partnership https://t.co/eQYx8oyFwV pic.twitter.com/Sb81GHqiyI
— CBC News (@CBCNews) January 5, 2016
Currently, General Motors and Lyft are offering Chevy Equinox vehicles to customers in Chicago. However, the joint program will be introduced in more U.S. cities, with the Bolt as the main character. This vehicle would also be useful for drivers needing extra space, since its battery is located under the cabin floor.
“GM continues to make progress on our previously announced plans related to an integrated on-demand autonomous network with Lyft. We believe electrification blends perfectly with autonomy when it comes to technology integration.” said a GM spokesperson to the Scientific American, via email.
Silicon Valley vs Detroit: which one will dominate the vehicle market in the future?
Analysts suggest the car industry could be facing a reshuffle in the upcoming years. Tech companies are widely interested in developing self-driving systems that would substitute human drivers. Tesla Motors, with the upcoming Model 3 and Google are the current leaders of the segment.
It appears that Google is not interested in manufacturing cars. Instead, the subsidiary of Alphabet Inc. wants to ally with automakers, in order to sell them its self-driving technology. By contrast, car developers based in Detroit have said they are not interested in being hardware suppliers.
Rivals such as BMW and Volkswagen have decided to follow different paths and develop their own self-driving technologies. Currently, hybrid-electric vehicles account for less than 2 percent of vehicles sold, according to research firm Edmunds.
Breaking: GM, Lyft to test self-driving electric taxis within a year in unnamed city https://t.co/GEv5dTgx7I
— Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) May 5, 2016
Source: The Wall Street Journal