The quest to let your car do the driving is a booming success. Automakers are gearing up for this self-driving car lifestyle. Honda, GM, and other big auto manufacturers are dumping billions into building self-driving cars.
Honda didn’t embrace the concept as early as GM for internal reasons, according to some reports. But they finally realized they need to hook up with one of the power-brokers in the self-driving car building game. The recent Reuters report that Honda was taking a 5.7 percent stake in GM’s Cruise $1 billion venture. Cruise is a startup with good self-driving technology and great credentials. Honda wants part of the Cruise action so they coughed up $750 million up front. And that let the self-driving car industry know it’s game on in the self-driving car building game. Plus, Honda said they will contribute another $2 billion over the next 12 years. That put a smile on the faces of GM and Honda shareholders. GM shares went up 3.1 percent when the news hit the wires.
But it’s not just the money GM wants in the deal. Honda will provide their engineering talents. And that serious expertise, along with a heavy dose of cooperation, will give GM the ability to build Japanese-American-made vehicles that will appeal to the masses at some point. But the first self-driving cars will go to fleet companies. GM has more than 100 self-driving cars, and they were just rebranded “Cruise AV.” Most of those vehicles are in the San Francisco area.
Honda and GM aren’t the only big car dogs looking for a piece of the self-driving car craze that is on the horizon. Waymo another self-driving car-tech startup has a deal with Fiat Chrysler as well as a deal with Jaguar Land Rover. As far as self-driving car prices go, don’t look for any bargains, according to automobile analysts. The technology to make them safe is expensive.
At the beginning of 2018, GM asked the government to approve for a fully self-driving car. That means the car won’t have a steering wheel, and they won’t have an accelerator or brake pedal either. Once GM gets approval, the first cars will go to a 2019 commercial ride-sharing fleet.