GM announced plans to launch Cruise, a large-scale fleet of autonomous taxi and rideshare cars based on a “driverless” version of its all-electric Chevrolet Bolt model, early last year. It was an ambitious project, and it had an equally ambitions timeline: to launch by 2020. We’re halfway through 2019, however, and it may already be too late to overcome all the unexpected government hurdles and technical issues that are standing in the way of GM’s success.
For their part, executives at GM are still putting on a happy face when it comes to Cruise. “We’re working aggressively,” said GM CEO Mary Barra when asked about the project last month. “Our rate of iteration continues to improve. So, that is the position we’re in and that’s the approach that we have.”
Industry insiders are less convinced that GM will make it on time. “Everybody in the industry underestimated how hard a problem this was going to be, and I think GM probably was a little overambitious,” said Sam Abuelsamid, a principal research analyst at Navigant Research. “It’s a mix of … (autonomous driving being) a harder problem to solve, and [GM engineers] just not making the progress they had hoped for.”
If the ride-hailing service doesn’t meet its launch goal, it won’t be the first goal that GM’s missed. Those include stated plans to testing the autonomous cars in New York City and increasing vehicle testing to a pace of 1 million miles a month by early 2018– which, obviously, we’re out of 2018. “From a business perspective, it hurts because that puts off the time when you start to generate revenues,” explains Abuelsamid. “But from a public standpoint, from a safety standpoint, it’s better to wait and get it right than rush it out there and have technology that isn’t ready yet — especially in an urban environment.”
So, OK, there’s a spin. The real question though, is whether or not the rollout date really matters in the grand scheme of things. Autonomous ride-sharing is believed to be a trillion dollar industry in the making, but the complexity and difficulty in revolutionizing an industry and taking the driver out of the driving may be a step too far for everyone in the business.
What do you guys think? Is GM doing the right thing by pushing towards an autonomous future? Or, would the General be better off leaving that to others, and focusing on simply getting its EVs and hybrids up to the level of Tesla or Toyota, instead? Let us know what you think of GM’s Cruise taxi service and whether you think it’ll be ready by 2020– or 2030!– in the comments section at the bottom of the page.
GM Cruise | Autonomous Chevy Bolt
Source | Images: Automotive News.