If you follow Automotive News, you may recall an article about a month ago that addressed General Motors’ vision for its self-driving, multi-passenger unit – the Cruise Origin. GM sees this autonomous, all-electric shuttle as a clean and profitable alternative to Uber and Lyft. And, while the Cruise Origin is probably still a few years from production and road-readiness, the fact that existing ride-hailing services have yet to turn a profit makes this a race.
As GM uses its Electric Vehicle and Autonomous Vehicle technologies to be first-to-market with a driverless, environmentally friendly shuttle service, others are watching with interest and capital, including significant institutional and equity investors. Don’t think the current giants in the ride-hailing arena are going to sit idly by, however; they also see that the road to profitability is through autonomous vehicles.
As additional motivation, a recent study from the nonprofit advocacy group Union of Concerned Scientists reported that ride-hailing services are actually responsible for increasing carbon emissions. Although embraced by the young “woke” generation and perceived as a possible force to stem climate change, the study reveals that the emergence and popularity of Uber and Lyft have had the exact opposite impact on the environment. The convenience of ride hailing has added drivers to the road and pulled passengers away from public transportation, creating both congestion and more pollution. The report goes on to call for companies like Uber and Lyft to electrify their fleets and increase their share of pooled rides, coincidentally demands that fall right in line with GM’s vision for the Cruise Origin.
As for what’s next, as autonomous vehicle technology evolves and infrastructure and regulation on U.S. roadways develops, we should begin to see changes to personal mobility that will ultimately have a positive, lasting impact on all of us. Stay tuned.
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