As of today Honda has hardly any electric cars in its product mix, but it has just agreed to invest a huge chunk of money — $2.75 billion, to be exact — in Cruise, the autonomous driving company bought by General Motors last year.
$750 million of that investment will happen immediately. The remaining $2 billion will be provided over the next 12 years. Honda’s involvement with Cruise comes just 5 months after Softbank put $2.25 billion into the Cruise Automation pot. The company’s valuation now stands at more than $14 billion.
What sort of vehicle are GM and Honda working on?
Non of them are welling to share any details. Kyle Vogt, founder and CEO of Cruise, tells TechCrunch it will be “innovative, space efficient, and multi-purpose. When you have the chance to design a vehicle from the ground up, we’re not limited to thinking from the perspective of ‘OK, there’s an autonomous vehicle that looks and feels like an existing vehicle, what can we do with it?’ It lets us invert the problem and think from first principles of what we can do with a vehicle that’s built from scratch.”
Honda, GM, and Cruise say they plan to “explore global opportunities for commercial deployment of the Cruise network.” Cruise claims it will begin offering a commercial ride-hailing service using autonomous Chevy Bolts in 2019, presumably in San Francisco where Cruise has its headquarters. It is already testing its self-driving cars on public roads in the Bay area.
This is not the first collaboration between Honda and GM. The two companies are already working together to perfect hydrogen fuel cells for automotive use, a project that has a 2020 target date.
Reference- Cleantechnica, CNBC, Reuters