General Motors announced Thursday that the SoftBank Vision Fund will invest $2.25 billion in GM Cruise Holdings LLC, strengthening the American automaker's plans to commercialize automated vehicle technology on an electric vehicle platform.


An electric Cruise Automation Chevrolet Bolt undergoing testing in San Francisco, October 18, 2017
(Photo by Dllu)


SoftBank, a Japanese multinational conglomerate based in Tokyo, is buying a 19.6 percent stake in GM Cruise Holdings LLC, a newly formed entity for Cruise Automation, the driverless-car developer that General Motors acquired in early 2016.


GM will also invest $1.1 billion in GM Cruise upon closing of the Softbank transaction.


“Our Cruise and GM teams together have made tremendous progress over the last two years,” said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra. “Teaming up with SoftBank adds an additional strong partner as we pursue our vision of zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion.”


The GM Cruise is being developed from a fleet of 100 percent electric Bolts, designed so that the operator behind the wheel can take control of the vehicle throughout development and testing.


“GM has made significant progress toward realizing the dream of completely automated driving to dramatically reduce fatalities, emissions and congestion,” said Michael Ronen, managing partner, SoftBank Investment Advisers.


“The GM Cruise approach of a fully integrated hardware and software stack gives it a unique competitive advantage," said Ronen. "We are very impressed by the advances made by the Cruise and GM teams, and are thrilled to help them lead a historic transformation of the automobile industry.”


“We’re excited to be joining forces with a tech leader who shares our belief that AV technology will change the world,” said General Motors President Dan Ammann. “We look forward to partnering with SoftBank as we work toward deploying this technology safely and in massive scale.”


The SoftBank Vision Fund investment will be made in two tranches. At the closing of the transaction, the Vision Fund will invest the first tranche of $900 million.


When Cruise AVs are ready for commercial deployment, the Vision Fund will complete the second tranche of $1.35 billion, subject to regulatory approval.


The GM and SoftBank Vision Fund investments are expected to reach commercialization at scale beginning in 2019.


General Motors said it aims to operate large fleets of driverless robotaxis in big cities by 2019, a mobility service that could potentially eclipse the profits it earns in the core automotive business within a decade.



By Sunny Lewis

Environment News Service (ENS)

June 1, 2018