Old-timey car-making giant GM and new-fangled ride-sharing startup Lyft are cooking up something huge, say sources. The unlikely pair are getting ready to test a fleet of autonomous electric taxicabs, and they plan to do it by May 2017.
[Developing story. Updated 2:40 pm PT with more comment]
It seems Lyft and General Motors will be using the new Chevy Bolt electric car. We're not told where this pilot program is to be, but it's said to involve real, paying passengers.
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What’s the craic? Mike Ramsey and Gautham Nagesh report—GM, Lyft to Test Self-Driving Electric Taxis:
Within a year [they] will begin testing...self-driving Chevrolet Bolt electric taxis on public roads. ... GM [recently] invested $500 million in Lyft...whose services rival Uber.
The new effort is directed mostly at challenging Alphabet and Uber [which] has its own self-driving research center in Pittsburgh. ... Although Tesla has created demand for high-price electric vehicles...other auto makers haven’t been as successful.
I detect it's getting closer. Stephen Hall affects anticipation of self-driving Chevy Bolt taxis ‘within a year’:
GM and Lyft are partnering to test [the] electric taxis...in an undisclosed city. ... GM’s Chevrolet Bolt [is] a speedy compact crossover all-electric.
Details of this plan are still “being worked out.” [They will] be starting the program with...human drivers [but they] will eventually be out of a job.
Where did GM get its self-driving tech from? Jacob Kastrenakes says it'll be an enormous market:
The plan relies on GM's recent acquisition of Cruise Automation, a...startup it purchased in March. ... Lyft and GM...are moving aggressively to get a place in...an enormous market of self-driving cabs.
GM and Lyft began partnering on self-driving cars in January. ... GM also intends to begin renting out standard versions of the car to Lyft drivers.
Cruise who? Annie Gaus explains, magnetically: [You're fired -Ed.]
In March, [GM] spent a reported $1 billion acquiring Cruise Automation [which] builds kits allowing certain Audi models to operate autonomously. ... Separately, GM also acquired Sidecar, the defunct ride-hailing startup.
And that's not all. As Alison Griswold explains:
General Motors has spent the first several months of 2016 positioning itself for the driverless future. ... GM has since launched Maven, a car-rental service akin to Zipcar...and debuted Express Drive, a short-term car rental program for Lyft drivers.
Should GM and Lyft’s self-driving cars begin servicing passengers [on time] it would likely give them a jump on Uber. [But being] first...will come with its own challenges. ... Just because automakers and tech companies are ready...doesn’t mean their customers are.
Update: What lies behind the trend? Bill Howard gets extreme—The old guard prepares for wrenching change:
The wrenching change [is] forced on automakers by demographics and quality control. ... A growing population may be owning fewer cars that last longer...and urban dwellers increasingly choose ride-hailing services...over taxis or car ownership.
Traditional car-makers realize...they could be steamrollered by...Tesla, Lyft, Uber, Apple and Alphabet...and they need to adapt at warp speed. ... In January, General Motors and Lyft announced “a long-term strategic alliance.” ... This week, the broad commitment took on more specificity.
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