GM Self-Driving Cars to Be Ready for Ride-Sharing in 2019

Two self-driving Chevy Bolt EV cars are seen during a media event by Cruise GM’s autonomous car unit in San Francisco California

The company said vehicles will not have human backup drivers.

The largest US automaker's plan for a self-driving car-sharing service comes at a time when auto sales in its home market are slowing after a record seven-year streak of gains.

In an announcement yesterday, the firm said it believes government regulations will support development of self driving cars in the coming few years.

The company is already operating a fleet of self-driving Chevy Volt's in San Francisco, run by GM's autonomous driving subsidiary, Cruise Automation.

"The return on invested capital will be significantly higher than what we're seeing in the core business", said Stevens.

GM is trying to create self-driving cars that need minimal maintenance and upkeep, like aircraft that hold up well to constant use, Vogt says. GM added that there was still much more hard engineering work to be done. "While the vehicle drove conservatively (i.e., taking time, strictly obeying speed limits, checking carefully at both sides before turning at an intersection), we'd also note that the driving environment was quite complex".

Abuelsamid said it makes business sense for mobility services like Uber and Lyft to shoulder the initial expenses of costly electric and autonomous vehicles.

The No. 1 U.S. automaker - which views electric and autonomous vehicles as the keystones of future transport - has been focused on rolling out self-driving cars since its estimated $US1 billion ($F2b) acquisition of startup Cruise Automation in early 2016 that provided a toehold in the nascent industry.

Google's Waymo division is testing self-driving minivans in Phoenix, carrying passengers without a backup driver in the front seat.

Barra said the biggest opportunities for self-driving cars would initially be on the East and West Coasts. By getting out there first, GM hopes to ride a rapid cost and technology improvement curve that will leave the competition far behind.... Ammann said GM now makes about $30,000 per vehicle by selling them, but said ride-hailing and delivery profits could rise to hundreds of thousands of dollars per vehicle.

GM hasn't yet said whether it will operate the service itself or pair up with the likes of Uber or Lyft, which it invested $500 million in previous year.

GM stock fell 72 cents to $43.09 at market close Thursday.

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