General Motors is preparing to go head-to-head with ride-hailing companies with its self-driving service — led by the Chevy Bolt — by 2019.
The Nuts and Bolts
In late November, the automaker’s CEO Mary Barra spoke to analysts in an update on the company’s strategy for self-driving cars, according to CNBC.
"As we first launch autonomous and ride-sharing fleets, we believe the biggest opportunities are in the coastal areas," she said. Currently, self-driving Bolts can be seen in San Francisco as part of a beta test run led by Cruise Automation, a branch of GM.
Dan Ammann, the president of GM, told CNBC they’re making strides on having safely-operating, self-driving vehicles in an urban environment.
"We want to demonstrate to people how much progress has been made to our overall mission, which is to deploy this technology at very large scale and the most complex environments with the right safety," Ammann said.
The Cost Question
In addition to the all-important safety factor of driverless cars, another factor is affordability. As for the cost for one of these Bolt rides, GM says its aiming for it to be considerably less than rides with a human driver.
GM says it expects the initial cost to customers of early stage autonomous-drive ride-share cars in the Bay Area will be about $1.50 per mile — 40 percent below the cost of ride-hailing services operated with a human behind the wheel.
The company’s business plan is still being fleshed out, and executives haven’t picked a specific date for when folks can call up a ride in a self-driving Chevy Bolt — or what it might cost.
"This technology will continually and rapidly improve once it’s launched," Ammann told analysts.
With a new year just a few weeks away, time flies in the increasingly competitive ride-hailing arena.