GM's Self Driving Unit Cruise Raises $2.75 Billion Led by Retailer Walmart
【Summary】General Motors’ self-driving unit Cruise announced this week a long-term strategic relationship with retailer Walmart to accelerate the commercialization of self-driving vehicles. Walmart is joined by Microsoft, General Motors, Honda and other institutional investors in a combined new equity investment of more than $2.75 billion in Cruise, bringing the post-money valuation of Cruise to $30 billion.
General Motors' self-driving unit Cruise announced a long-term strategic relationship with retailer Walmart to accelerate the commercialization of self-driving vehicles.
Walmart is joining Microsoft, General Motors, Honda and other institutional investors in a combined new equity investment of more than $2.75 billion in Cruise, bringing the post-money valuation of Cruise to $30 billion.
"This investment is a marker for us. It shows our commitment to bringing the benefit of self-driving cars to our customers and business," Walmart U.S. CEO John Furner said in a blog post on Thursday. "We're excited to join Cruise's already impressive partner and investor ecosystem with the likes of GM, Honda and Microsoft as we work towards pioneering this emerging technology."
As part of the investments, Microsoft will provide its software and hardware engineering excellence, cloud computing capabilities, manufacturing know-how and partner ecosystem to transform transportation. GM will also explore opportunities with Microsoft to streamline its operations, foster productivity and bring new mobility services to market faster.
Microsoft will serve as Cruise's preferred cloud provider.
"Advances in digital technology are redefining every aspect of our work and life, including how we move people and goods," said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft. "As Cruise and GM's preferred cloud, we will apply the power of Azure to help them scale and make autonomous transportation mainstream."
In addition, GM will work with Microsoft to accelerate its digitization initiatives, including collaboration, storage, artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities. GM will explore opportunities with Microsoft to streamline operations across digital supply chains, foster productivity and bring new mobility services to customers faster.
"Microsoft, as the gold standard in the trustworthy democratization of technology, will be a force multiplier for us as we commercialize our fleet of self-driving, all-electric, shared vehicles," said said Cruise CEO Dan Ammann earlier this year.
Ammann served as the President of General Motors from 2015- 2019 before being tapped to head Cruise.
In 2016, GM invested around $1 billion for a majority stake in the company when it was a relatively unknown San Francisco startup working on autonomous driving. Part of GM's investment was to jumpstart its own work on self-driving cars.
The result of GM's early investment is now paying off. Cruise and GM are planning to launch a commercial ride-hailing service similar to Uber, using a fleet of self-driving Chevy Bolt EVs supplied by GM and outfitted by Cruise for autonomous driving.
The investment from Walmart will help Cruise become more competitive in autonomous ecommerce delivery, which is poised to transform the retail landscape. GM's work with Cruise will also help the automaker develop new growth opportunities in the advanced mobility space.
In 2018, Walmart partnered with Ford Motor Co in Florida on an autonomous grocery delivery service. The Florida pilot was designed to allow the two companies to study human interaction with seemingly driverless car delivering food, as the automaker explores the commercial viability of autonomous delivery technology in the future.
Cruise also developed an autonomous shuttle called the Origin that was built in a joint effort between Cruise, GM and Japan's Honda Motor Co.
The Origin EV will be the first production vehicle purposefully built by a global automaker without a steering wheel or brake pedals or any other human controls. It's designed for commercial use and can be outfitted to carry passengers or cargo for companies like Walmart which are exploring the use of autonomous vehicles for deliveries.
To support the rollout of a commercial robotaxi service using autonomous and electric vehicles, Cruise has filed a project application with the city of San Francisco in February to build what it calls one of the "largest electric vehicle charging stations in North America" to charge its growing fleet of self-driving vehicles.
Also this week, Cruise said it planned to deploy a limited number of its autonomous Origin shuttles for ride-hail services in Dubai from 2023, which would be its first overseas deployment of autonomous vehicles.
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