Fresh reports reveal that General Motors is about to build and test an unprecedented number of self-driving vehicles next year. The project is purportedly being undertaken in partnership with Lyft.
It will be recalled that GM has poured $500 million last year on the ride-hailing service, and that investment is widely seen as part of the automaker's aggressive plan to dominate the automated vehicle segment.
Thousands Of Automated Bolts
According to Reuters, GM will be producing thousands of Chevrolet Bolts, and they will be tested across several states in the early part of 2018. This information came from two inside sources who stressed that GM is not intending to sell any of those EVs, deploying them instead as part of Lyft's ride-sharing fleet.
These insights underscore a critical pivot on the part of GM, which is currently the largest automaker in the United States. It does not only mark the increasing adoption of driverless vehicles, but it also demonstrates a looming change involving human transport.
As the tranche of automated Bolts got deployed in the Lyft network, the ride-hailing company is also in a better position to deliver its previous vow that it will abolish car ownership by 2025.
"Tesla CEO Elon Musk believes the transition to autonomous vehicles will happen through a network of autonomous car owners renting their vehicles to others," John Zimmer, Lyft's president and cofounder, said. "Elon is right that a network of vehicles is critical, but the transition to an autonomous future will not occur primarily through individually owned cars. It will be both more practical and appealing to access autonomous vehicles when they are part of Lyft's networked fleet."
Bolt Is Ready To Roll
There is still no official word coming from GM confirming the move. An official statement released reiterated that the company does not comment on future products, but it did state that its Bolt EVs will indeed be heading to Lyft as previously announced.
"We do not provide specific details on potential future products or technology rollout plans," GM said. "We have said that our AV technology will appear in an on-demand ride sharing network application sooner than you might think."
To provide context on GM's autonomous vehicle initiative, one can only turn to the handful of automated vehicles getting tested by rival companies. Waymo, for instance, is reportedly getting only 60 self-driving vehicles through its paces.
The mass deployment of the automated Bolt next year, if true, only means that GM may already have secured components from suppliers, and its automated technology is now at a high-level.