General Motors and Cruise are teaming up with Honda to push for the “large-scale deployment of autonomous vehicle technology.”
According to the automakers, they will work together to fund and develop a purpose-built autonomous vehicle for Cruise. The companies didn’t say much about the model, but it will have a variety of uses and be mass produced for global deployment.
While GM and Honda were coy on details, Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt said the purpose-built model will be beautiful, innovative and efficient. The vehicle has been in development for the past two years and it promises to provide an incredible user experience while also being “fully released from the constraints of having a driver behind the wheel.”
That isn’t much to go on, but the image accompanying the announcement showed a streamlined pod which features vertical lights and a squared off windscreen. The model also has a boxy design with protruding wheel arches.
Besides developing the purpose-built autonomous vehicle, the companies will explore global opportunities for the commercial deployment of the Cruise network. Cruise’s efforts have been largely limited to the United States, but Honda’s involvement will likely pave the way for their vehicles to be used overseas.
As part of the agreement, Honda will make a $750 (£577.2 / €650.6) million equity investment in Cruise. The company will also contribute approximately $2 (£1.5 / €1.7) billion over the next 12 years to help fund the company’s autonomous driving efforts. This means Cruise is now valued at approximately $14.6 (£11.2 / €12.6) billion.
In a statement, GM CEO Mary Barra called the partnership with Honda the next “logical” step as the companies have already joined forces to mass produce fuel cells and develop next-generation battery technology. Barra went on to say “Together, we can provide Cruise with the world’s best design, engineering and manufacturing expertise, and [the] global reach to establish them as the leader in autonomous vehicle technology – while they move to deploy self-driving vehicles at scale.”
Her sentiments were echoed by Honda Executive Vice President Seiji Kuraishi who said the company will complement GM’s strengths by providing “expertise in space efficiency and design to develop the most desirable and effective shared autonomous vehicle.”