Honda adds weight to GM and Cruise autonomous project

Japanese automotive giant Honda is partnering with General Motors and its subsidiary Cruise Automation to develop a new autonomous vehicle.

A Cruise Automation Chevrolet Bolt (Credit: Dllu via CC)

GM purchased technology startup Cruise in 2016 and the San Francisco-based company now forms the core of GM’s autonomous endeavours. Honda, which has previously collaborated with GM on electric vehicles, will now join forces with the two US firms to develop a purpose-built autonomous vehicle for Cruise. According to the partners, the new vehicle will serve a multitude of uses, will be built at scale, and will be deployed globally.

“This is the logical next step in General Motors and Honda’s relationship, given our joint work on electric vehicles, and our close integration with Cruise,” said General Motors chairman and CEO Mary Barra. “Together, we can provide Cruise with the world’s best design, engineering and manufacturing expertise, and global reach to establish them as the leader in autonomous vehicle technology – while they move to deploy self-driving vehicles at scale.”

Honda says it will contribute approximately $2bn over 12 years to the joint initiative. This brings its total commitment to the project to $2.75bn, following an equity investment of $750m in Cruise. In May 2018, Japanese holding conglomerate SoftBank allocated $2.25bn from its Vision Fund to Cruise. These recent cash influxes have given the California company, founded just five years ago, a valuation of $14.6bn.   

“With the backing of General Motors, SoftBank and now Honda, Cruise is deeply resourced to accomplish our mission to safely deploy autonomous technology across the globe,” said Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt. “The Honda partnership paves the way for massive scale by bringing a beautiful, efficient, and purpose-built vehicle to our network of shared autonomous vehicles.”

In a Medium post published by Vogt to coincide with the Honda announcement, the Cruise CEO stated that the company has been prototyping a new vehicle over the past two years that is “fully released from the constraints of having a driver behind the wheel.”