U.S.-based giant automaker General Motors has disclosed that the driverless cars it is developing will go into production next year. The carmaker has also announced that it will unveil a ride-hailing service that will use the driverless cars in 2019.
GM’s self-driving car is known as Cruise AV where the AV stands for Autonomous Vehicle. The Cruise AV is based on another GM car branded Chevrolet Bolt EV and will be produced at the Orion Township facility of GM located in Michigan. This is the same plant that produces the Bolt EV.
The entire car will not be manufactured at Orion as the roof-mounted modules which carry autonomous car hardware that includes cameras, radar and lidar will be made at the Brownstown plant of GM. The Brownstown facility, which is also in Michigan, currently serves as the production site for some batteries. In the next two years it is expected to be producing fuel cell stacks. At the two Michigan plants General Motors is expected to invest over $100 million with a view to upgrading the plants.
Earlier in the year the carmaker made an appeal to the federal government seeking to have its Cruise AV car approved. GM’s petition is seeking to have 16 vehicle safety rules that currently exist changed in order to accommodate its self-driving car. Besides the federal government General Motors will also have to get the approval of the states in order to have the autonomous car approved for use.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
In the past two months the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been conducting a review of the petition though there has been no decision made yet. It is expected that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration could make its decision known before this year ends or at least next year.
The announcement by General Motors comes about a week since media reports surfaced indicating that the giant car maker would be launching a pilot program enabling owners of vehicles to rent out their cars when not in use. According to sources the tests are expected to start in early summer and will be done under the auspices of Maven, the car-sharing unit of GM. The pilot program is likely to be yet another phase in the metamorphosis of GM from a carmaker to a mobility provider.
According to an industry consultant, Alexandre Marian, a peer-to-peer business would be preferable to car-sharing services for car manufacturers.
“Carmakers are preparing for disruption, so they are experimenting with different models,” Marian told Bloomberg.