Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

GM Invests $500 Million in Lyft. Does It Get Us Closer to Self- Driving Cars?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

GM Invests $500 Million in Lyft. Does It Get Us Closer to Self- Driving Cars?

Article excerpt

A 107 year-old American automaker is teaming up with a three- year-old ride-hailing startup out of San Francisco to develop a fleet of self-driving cars. Welcome to 2016.

General Motors Co. announced a $500 million investment in Lyft Inc. on Monday, and an "alliance" that will bring the pair right into the autonomous-driving scrum playing out between Uber, Google, Tesla, and Apple, among others.

Lyft Co-Founder and President John Zimmer and GM President Dan Ammann said in interviews with the Associated Press that the two companies started serious talks about three months ago. Both foresee major change in the traditional model of car ownership, and they shared similar ideas about how to address it.

"It felt very natural very quickly," Mr. Zimmer said to the AP.

Mr. Ammann said the partnership that came out of the talks, and the investment that made up half of Lyft's latest $1 billion Series- F round of funding, is unlike anything else happening in either the auto or tech industries.

"Do we want to deploy the resources and people to do everything ourselves, or get there faster by working in partnership?" Ammann said. "We see a really compelling, complimentary set of capabilities."

Effective "immediately" according to GM, the partnership will establish rental stations around the country from which Lyft drivers can rent GM vehicles on a short-term basis. The plan could put more Lyft drivers on the road as would-be drivers who don't own cars are provided an option to rent, and then drive and earn money through Lyft. The plan gives GM an edge over competitors like Daimler AG and Ford Motor Co., who are developing their own ride-sharing services, AP reports.

In the future, the two companies plan to build a self-driving car fleet that could be hailed using Lyft's app, according to statements. That plan leverages both firms' experience in developing autonomous technology, manufacturing, and mobile applications, according to the heads of the companies. …

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