GM, Honda to collaborate to deliver self-driving cars for 'global deployment'

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DETROIT — General Motors is partnering with Honda to speed up the deployment of self-driving cars to major cities in 2019.

Honda will contribute about $2 billion over 12 years to the partnership and will finance a $750 million equity investment in Cruise, GM’s self-driving car company.

GM had already promised self-driving car pilots in a ride-sharing capacity in certain U.S. cities by late 2019. The new alliance adds a fresh layer of credibility to that goal, tightening the alliance between the U.S. and Japanese automakers, which were already collaborating to develop electric car batteries and hydrogen fuel cells.

Honda will now work with Cruise and GM to fund and develop a “purpose-built” self-driving car for Cruise that can serve a “wide variety of use cases and be manufactured at high volume for global deployment,” GM said Wednesday in a statement.

Additionally, GM and Honda will look at how they can commercialize the Cruise network across global markets. 

“The combined forces of General Motors and Honda, who already are working on fuel cells, with GM’s Cruise Automation to build autonomous vehicles marks a significant milestone in moving self-driving closer to reality,” Autotrader analyst Michelle Krebs said.

“It also demonstrates that partnerships like these — Detroit, Silicon Valley and Japan — are necessary to take on these expensive ventures that likely will not return a profit in the near-term.”

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GM had already lured a $2.25 billion investment from SoftBank Vision Fund for its self-driving car division, fueling speculation that the Detroit-based automaker could collaborate with SoftBank ride-hailing investment Uber.

After the Honda and SoftBank deals, the Cruise division is valued at $14.6 billion, GM CEO Mary Barra told reporters Wednesday.

“This is the logical next step in General Motors and Honda’s relationship, given our joint work on electric vehicles, and our close integration with Cruise,” Barra said in a statement.

“Together, we can provide Cruise with the world’s best design, engineering and manufacturing expertise, and global reach to establish them as the leader in autonomous vehicle technology — while they move to deploy self-driving vehicles at scale,” she said.

GM President Dan Amman said that automaker is moving “as fast as we can” and now have a deeply resourced effort to bring self-driving cars to the roads in a safe and quick manner now. 

“In terms of other partnerships and opportunities we will evaluate things as they come along,” Amman told reporters.

Amman said GM still is targeting self-driving car deployment for next year, but added, “Our ultimate decision to deploy is dependent on safety.”

“Honda chose to collaborate with Cruise and General Motors based on their leadership in autonomous and electric vehicle technology and our shared vision of a zero-emissions and zero-collision world,” Honda Executive Vice President and Representative Director COO Seiji Kuraishi said in a statement.

“We will complement their strengths through our expertise in space efficiency and design to develop the most desirable and effective shared autonomous vehicle.” 

Contributing: USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey

 

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