GM Self-Driving Cars to Be Ready for Ride-Sharing in 2019

Two self-driving Chevy Bolt EV cars are seen during a media event by Cruise GM’s autonomous car unit in San Francisco California

GM said that based on its current rate that it expects its autonomous vehicles to be at "commercial launch at scale" within the next year.

GM didn't say exactly where it plans to launch its driverless ride-hailing service, but identified "dense urban environments" in the.

GM has enjoyed a recent surge in its share price, as investors bet on its plans for self-driving and electric cars, although the company's profit is driven entirely by demand for trucks and SUVs in North America, and its growing sales in China.

"This business is potentially bigger than our current core business", Chief Financial Officer Chuck Stevens told the group. Earlier this month, GM said it would launch a range of electric vehicles in 2021 in a direct challenge to market leader Tesla, which is struggling to ramp up its more affordable, high-volume Model 3. The Bolt's human backup driver disengaged the system and took the wheel after the auto waited for more than a minute behind the truck where construction workers ordered lunch. Also it is not quite clear yet whether the automaker will be first. Granted, Cruise has operated a pilot ride-sharing program for its employees in San Francisco for the past few months.

Google's Waymo, German automaker Daimler and Ford are also developing self-driving cars that would be available for ride-sharing services. "The more you use it, the better it will get", Ammann said at the event.

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The No. 1 USA automaker - which views electric and autonomous vehicles as the keystones of future transport - has been focused on rolling out self-driving cars since its estimated $US1 billion ($F2b) acquisition of startup Cruise Automation in early 2016 that provided a toehold in the nascent industry. Once they're on the road, the vehicles' computers will constantly learn and improve.

"We have been committed since we first started talking about our efforts and when we purchased a portion of Lyft to building self-driving cars that operate in a ride-sharing environment", Ray Wert, head of Storytelling and advanced technology communications at General Motors, said.

GM estimated the total ride-sharing market could reach $1.6 trillion once it hits 75 percent of all rides in the U.S. Now it's less than 1 percent.

GM hasn't yet said whether it will operate the service itself or pair up with the likes of Uber or Lyft, which it invested $500 million in previous year. The Associated Press reports GM made the announcement Thursday, Nov. 30 to investors.

GM stock fell 72 cents to $43.09 at market close Thursday.

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