General Motors today announced a large investment into its self-driving unit, Cruise. SoftBank’s Vision Fund will invest $2.25 billion in GM Cruise Holdings LLC and when the deal closes, GM will invest an additional $1.1 billion. The investments are expected to inject enough capital into Cruise for the unit to reach commercialization at scale beginning in 2019.
“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.”
“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. 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.”
The investments will be made in stages. When the transaction closes, the Vision Fund will invest $900 million, and when Cruise is ready for commercial deployment, the fund will provide the remaining $1.35 billion. When closed, SoftBank’s Vision Fund will own a 19.6-percent equity stake in GM’s Cruise.
General Motors purchased the San Francisco-based startup in 2016 for $581 million. Since then, General Motors has reportedly let the unit operate largely on its own. At the time, GM President Dan Ammann told TechCrunch the car maker intended to integrate Cruise’s technology within its fleet of vehicle brands as soon as possible.
Since being acquired by GM, Cruise seems to be, well, cruising. The company had 30 self-driving test cars on the road in 2016 and later rolled out a high-definition mapping system. In 2017 the company started running an autonomous ride-hailing service for its employees in San Francisco, later announcing its self-driving cars would hit New York City.
We took a ride in one of Cruise’s self-driving Chevy Bolts in 2017 and found it a good taste of the future. And now that Softbank’s Vision Fund and GM is dumping billions into the company, that tasty future seems closer than ever.