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GM will put self-driving fleets in cities in 2019

November 30, 2017

General Motors Co. is ready to put large numbers of self-driving cars on city streets in 2019.

The automaker is ready to deploy fleets of self-driving cars “at scale” in “dense urban environments” in just two years, GM president Dan Ammann said at a presentation Thursday in San Francisco, setting yet another lofty mobility benchmark for the company.

GM claims it is able to quickly launch AVs at scale — something other automakers and Silicon Valley startups have struggled to achieve — as in-house development of lidar at Cruise Automation slashes the cost of these units by about half to $10,000.

Cruise Automation is also adding roughly 900 employees by early 2018, bringing the autonomous vehicle development team up to 2,100 employees, according to the presentation. GM acquired Cruise last year in an effort to accelerate its development of self-driving technology.

The automaker also sees “a clear path” to reducing the cost-per-mile of its autonomous vehicle to under $1 by 2025, an important factor achieving profitability.

“Large automakers typically aren’t so bullish with their announcements so GM likely recognizes the opportunity to establish leadership by committing to this very specific short-term goal,” Jessica Caldwell, automotive analyst for Edmunds, wrote in an emailed statement. “Autonomy presents a massive opportunity, but until this point the space has been somewhat riddled with hazy promises.”

NNaughton@detroitnews.com