GM conducts autonomous tests with Bolt as it plots an electric future

GM recently conducted a series of autonomous vehicle tests with its all-electric Chevrolet Bolt.

GM recently conducted a series of autonomous vehicle tests with its all-electric Chevrolet Bolt.

General Motors (GM) has positioned itself to be “the prime mass-market manufacturer of self-driving cars” according to a report by Automotive IQ. It already positioned automation as a vital component among GM’s operation, but it has now received some positive street cred in this side of the industry among American manufacturers after completing 10 self-driving tests, according to Futurism.

GM has sound basis to go into mass production mode for the automated vehicles. According to a research paper by Grand View Research, the demand is set to zoom up to 138,089 units come 2024. The market sees a need for self-driving vehicles after noting a common problem - human error. Accidents attributed to human error are as high as 90%s worldwide, the research says, quoting the International Organization for Road Accident Prevention.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) claimed that switching to self-driving vehicles would result in saving about 69 lives annually, if most vehicles to be manufactured in the future would start including Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS).

While the research was released in 2016, the time frame covered for the predictions spanned from 2017 to 2024.

As a vehicle manufacturing company, GM is out to preserve its legacy without losing track of new market trends. Much has happened since it was bailed out by the U.S. government amid the Great Recession. The company has bounced back, though, and sold nearly 25,000 units of it Chevrolet Volt PHEV in 2017, almost beating Tesla’s Model S EV sales of 29,000 units.

The current chairperson and CEO of GM, Mary Barra, was quoted informing her employees about the pride she has with the company’s products. “The level of integration in these vehicles is on par with any of our production vehicles, and that is a great advantage. In fact, no other company today has the unique and necessary combination of technology, engineering and manufacturing ability to build autonomous vehicles at scale.”

GM’s latest baby, the Bolt EV, was rolled out in its Michigan-based plant right in Lake Orion. The self-drive test covering about 40 units was done in San Francisco, California and Scottsdale, Arizona. Automotive IQ noted how GM’s latest attempt in securing its foothold in the automated driving sector beat its competitors - notably Volvo, Audi, BMW, Apple, Google and fellow Michigan manufacturer Chrysler-Fiat - to the punch.

The test is part of GM’s ambitious plan to modernize its vehicles, which includes a large focus on electric vehicles. That includes its Chevrolet Volt PHEV. This model sold about 25,000 units in the United States alone in 2017, almost beating Tesla’s Model S EV by almost 4,000 units. It may not be a pure-electric car, but it sent a message to Elon Musk on how GM has discovered a demand that an American automobile manufacturer can meet.

Tesla’s 2012 Model S has become the standard for the ultimate electric vehicle. It faced formidable competition not only from GM’s Bolt but also from Nissan’s Leaf. With electric vehicle demand set to rise for the next decade, GM’s decision to launch EV models keeps it in the game.

Executive Vice President Mark Reuss, was quick to state a disclaimer saying that the switch to EV production “won’t happen overnight.” The long-term goal is to eventually launch “at least 20” EV models come 2023.

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