General Motors Co (GM) is teaming up with Microsoft Corp to accelerate its rollout of electric, self-driving vehicles.
In the partnership announced on Tuesday, the companies said that Microsoft’s Azure cloud and edge computing platform would be used to “commercialize its unique autonomous vehicle solutions at scale.”
Microsoft joins GM, Honda Motor Co and other institutional investors in a combined new equity investment of more than US$2 billion in Cruise, bringing its valuation to about US$30 billion.
Cruise, which GM bought in 2016, has been a leader in driverless technology and received the go ahead from California late last year to test its automated vehicles in San Francisco without backup drivers.
Auto companies have been joining forces and bringing technology firms on board to try to spread out the enormous costs — and by nature, risks — of developing self-driving and electric vehicles.
Honda is in on the Cruise project with GM; Volkswagen AG and Ford Motor Co have teamed up with Pittsburgh autonomous vehicle company Argo AI; and Hyundai Motor Co joined Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV last summer in a deal to use Waymo’s driverless vehicle technology.
Toyota Motor Corp and Uber Technologies Inc are also working together, while Amazon.com Inc skipped over the automaker part of the equation and last summer bought self-driving technology company Zoox, which is developing an autonomous vehicle for a ride-hailing service.
Stellantis NV, formed from the merger of Fiat Chrysler and PSA Group,， on Tuesday laid out a roadmap for its development, notably in electric vehicles.
Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares, who is also the head of PSA, said that the 14 brands that make up the Dutch company, now the world’s fourth-biggest automaker, would all offer electric vehicles by 2025.
Stellantis already has 29 electric models for sale and plans to launch 10 more by the end of the year, it said.
Mass adoption of driverless vehicles — and profits — are still a ways off, Guidehouse Insights industry analyst Sam Abuelsamid said.
“The reality is that the automated driving landscape is taking much longer to mature that had been anticipated a few years ago,” Abuelsamid said. “It’s probably going to be mid-decade before we start to see significant volumes of these vehicles.”
Abuelsamid added that the importance of adding a company such as Microsoft to the mix is its cloud computing power and the ability to analyze data from the vehicles to improve the technology.
“Microsoft is a great addition to the team as we drive toward a future world of zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion,” GM chairman and CEO Mary Barra said.
“Microsoft will help us accelerate the commercialization of Cruise’s all-electric, self-driving vehicles, and help GM realize even more benefits from cloud computing as we launch 30 new electric vehicles globally by 2025, and create new businesses and services to drive growth,” she said.
Additional reporting by AFP
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