General Motors Co. is teaming up with Microsoft Corp. to accelerate its rollout of electric, self-driving cars.
In the partnership announced Tuesday, the companies said Microsoft’s Azure cloud and edge computing platform would be used to “commercialize its unique autonomous vehicle solutions at scale.”
Microsoft joins General Motors, Honda Motor Co. Ltd. and other institutional investors in a combined new equity investment of more than US$2-billion in Cruise, bringing its valuation to about US$30-billion. Cruise, which GM bought in 2016, has been a leader in driverless technology and got the go-ahead from California late last year to test its automated vehicles in San Francisco without backup drivers.
Auto companies have been joining forces and bringing technology firms on board to try to spread out the enormous costs – and by nature, risks – of developing self-driving and electric vehicles.
Honda is in on the Cruise project with GM, Volkswagen Group and Ford Motor Co. have teamed up with Pittsburgh autonomous vehicle company Argo AI, and Hyundai Motor Co. joined with Fiat Chrysler last summer in a deal to use Waymo’s driverless car technology.
Toyota Motor Corp. and Uber Technologies Inc. are also working together, while Amazon.com, Inc. skipped over the automaker part of the equation and last summer bought self-driving technology company Zoox, which is developing an autonomous vehicle for a ride-hailing service.
“Microsoft is a great addition to the team as we drive toward a future world of zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion,” said GM chairman and chief executive Mary Barra. “Microsoft will help us accelerate the commercialization of Cruise’s all-electric, self-driving vehicles and help GM realize even more benefits from cloud computing as we launch 30 new electric vehicles globally by 2025 and create new businesses and services to drive growth.”
General Motors has been aggressively revamping its image, saying the industry has reached a history-changing inflection point for mass adoption of electric vehicles. The 112-year-old Detroit automaker this month unveiled a new corporate logo to signify its new direction as it openly pivots to electric vehicles. It wants to be seen as a clean vehicle company, rather than a builder of cloud-spewing, gas-powered pickups and SUVs.
GM scrapped its old square blue logo for a lowercase gm surrounded by rounded corners and an `m’ that looks like an electrical plug.
Shares in GM jumped more than 9 per cent in afternoon trading, to US$54.53.
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