GM pursues autonomous ride-share as 'biggest business opportunity since Internet'

Two self-driving Chevy Bolt EV cars are seen during a media event by Cruise GM’s autonomous car unit in San Francisco California

Having a driverless ride-hailing service to use as a framework, GM will count on reduction in costs, autonomous technologies advancing, and growth in the rail-hailing market that will enable it to successfully launch a self-driving vehicle during 2019, said Dan Ammann the president of GM during Thursday's San Francisco investor event hosted by GM. For the month of October, the Bolt even eclipsed the Tesla Model S as the most sold all-electric vehicle in the U.S.

In short, GM thinks it can make billions of dollars building and operating a fleet of self-driving cars, taking on Uber, Lyft, taxis and other competitors in the rapidly growing ride-hailing business.

As the cost of hailing a ride to the consumer falls, "the size of the market could grow 500 or 1,000 times", Vogt says. Earlier this month, GM said it would launch a range of electric vehicles in 2021 in a direct challenge to market leader Tesla, which is struggling to ramp up its more affordable, high-volume Model 3.

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Abuelsamid said it makes business sense for mobility services like Uber and Lyft to shoulder the initial expenses of costly electric and autonomous vehicles. The Detroit automaker's testbeds for the self-driving Bolt are in Warren, San Francisco and Scottsdale, Arizona.

Robo-taxi services are considered as the most important part for self-driving vehicles.

Waymo, which is the self-driving vehicle spinoff of Google, was the first company to take the driver from the seat on public roadways in early November.

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GM hasn't yet said whether it will operate the service itself or pair up with the likes of Uber or Lyft, which it invested $500 million in a year ago. It was a vindication of sorts for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV CEO Sergio Marchionne, who placed his bets on Silicon Valley's ability to move faster on self-driving technology than traditional automakers.

Delphi, an automotive supplier, said it expects its autonomous system to power commercial vehicles in limited areas in 2019. "Autonomy presents a massive opportunity, but until this point the space has been somewhat riddled with hazy promises". GM says the cost of the next-generation lidar will be cut by about half to $10,000.

GM acquired Cruise a year ago in an effort to accelerate its development of self-driving technology.

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