General Motors will catapult to the top of the autonomous vehicle class in 2018 when it deploys “thousands” of self-driving EVs with its ride-sharing partner Lyft Inc., according to Reuters.
If it happens, it will be the largest test fleet of fully autonomous vehicles by a major automaker. Currently, Waymo, working in concert with Fiat Chrysler, is testing about 60 self-driving vehicles in four states.
Most automakers have been pointing to 2020 as the time when they’ll have vehicles ready for autonomous driving tests on America’s roadways. Plans call for Lyft, which GM purchased a stake in last year, to use the self-driving EVs in California and other states, Reuters reported.
Sources told Reuters that GM has no immediate plans to sell the self-driving Bolts to individual customers. The fact that the newly introduced Bolt is the testbed for this technology isn’t a surprise.
(GM to launch autonomous Chevy Bolt EV public test. Click Here for the story.)
Executives have said repeatedly they intend to mass-produce autonomous vehicles and use them in ride service fleets, but they’ve avoided providing extensive details about when, where and how many vehicles would be part of the program.
The automaker currently has a test fleet of more than 30 Bolt “AVs” as they’re called, roaming the streets of San Francisco, California, and Scottsdale, Arizona. When it added to the fleet in December, GM said was looking to utilize Lyft for a larger scale test — this is apparently it.
(Google, FCA plan to launch autonomous ride-sharing pilot program. Click Here for more.)
“We do not provide specific details on potential future products or technology rollout plans,” GM said in a statement to Reuters. “We have said that our AV technology will appear in an on-demand ride sharing network application sooner than you might think.”
Lyft declined to comment, Reuters said.
GM spent $500 million for a significant stake in Lyft, which competes with Uber, in early 2016. GM also announced last March the $1 billion acquisition of San Francisco-based Cruise Automation, a start-up focusing on autonomous vehicle technology.
(For the latest on Uber’s controversial SF ride-sharing test, Click Here.)
Autonomous vehicles are currently being tested in similar environments. Uber is testing a Volvos and Fords in Arizona and Pennsylvania, respectively. However, the numbers are significantly smaller. Additionally, Uber executives have drawn fire from drivers for the program, claiming the company is attempting to phase drivers out eventually.