Japan’s Honda Motor Co. will invest $2.75 billion in the autonomous vehicle unit run by General Motors Co., called GM Cruise. The two automakers are already partnering on fuel cell vehicles and announced in June that they are developing batteries for electric vehicles, mainly for the North American market.
The goal, the companies said Wednesday, is to develop an autonomous vehicle that can be produced at a high volume for global deployment. The companies will also explore global opportunities for commercial deployment of the Cruise network.
Michelle Krebs, an executive analyst with Autotrader, believes the partnership is critical in the development of such advanced technology because it requires huge investments that have little promise of a quick payoff.
Honda will make an immediate investment of $750 million, and spend $2 billion over 12 years on the project.
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“Honda chose to collaborate with Cruise and General Motors based on their leadership in autonomous and electric vehicle technology and our shared vision of a zero-emissions and zero-collision world,” said Seiji Kuraishi, an executive vice president at Honda.
In May, the Japanese tech firm investment firm SoftBank announced it was taking a 20 percent stake in Cruise for $2.25 billion. GM had said it planned to use the cash infusion to roll out a robotaxi service in at least one major city starting next year. SoftBank also owns big stakes in Uber as well as in India’s Ola ride service and Didi Chuxing, China’s top ride-hailing firm.
GM has been widely viewed as being in second place in the autonomous vehicle race, with Google’s Waymo on top. Waymo said in May that it would buy up to 62,000 more minivans from Fiat Chrysler to expand its ride-hailing venture. Waymo and Fiat Chrysler also said that they were discussing the use of Waymo technology in Fiat-Chrysler self-driving vehicles that would be sold to the public.
Shares of Detroit-based GM surged more than 5 percent before the opening bell, while Honda’s stock fell more than 2 percent.