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American Shipper

General Motors to launch autonomous robo-taxi

The car manufacturer plans to produce self-driving cars on a large-scale and distribute them in metropolitan cities, according to a report from Reuters news service.

General Motors will launch a fleet of autonomous taxis in “quarters, not years.”

   General Motors Co (GM) is planning to launch a commercial fleet of autonomous robo-taxis in 2019, according to a conference call with investors that was reported by Reuters.
   GM President Dan Ammann said the lifetime revenue generation of one of its self-driving cars could eventually be in the “several hundred thousands of dollars,” as a comparison to the $30,000 that GM collects today for one of its vehicles. But “safety will ultimately be the deciding factor on when to take the driver out of the car,” said Ammann.
   GM has always included autonomous vehicles in its future plans but only now has the company outlined its strategy, said Reuters. The company plans to manufacture at scale its self-driving Bolts at GM’s existing plants, drive down costs, and rapidly deploy them in major metropolitan markets through a ride service. It plans to use these tactics to undermine the current competition.
   “We are the only company that has this under one roof,” said Chief Executive Mary Barra according to Reuters, referring to its technology rivals in the autonomous sector. Furthermore, Chief Financial Officer Chuck Stevens said a robo-taxi service could be “potentially bigger than our current core business, with better margins.” The company has “a path to take 40 percent of the cost out of ride services,” he continued. “Lowering the cost to below $1 per mile by 2025 from about $2.50 today could result in margins of 20 to 30 percent,” he said.
   GM said it sees deployment of autonomous vehicles in “quarters, not years,” with self-driving cars and shared mobility part of GM’s core business and the biggest opportunities initially coming from the U.S. East and West coasts.
   According to Reuters, GM has enjoyed a recent surge in its share price, as investors bet on its plans for self-driving and electric cars, although the company’s profit is driven entirely by demand for trucks and SUVs in North America, and its growing sales in China.

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