Honda joins GM in self-driving cars


New York
CNN business

Honda and General Motors are teaming up to create a new generation of fully autonomous vehicles. Honda will invest $2 billion over 12 years in GM’s autonomous vehicle subsidiary, Cruise.

GM and Cruise are building and developing self-driving versions of GM’s Chevrolet Bolt EV electric car, with plans to roll out a fleet for public use next year. With Honda’s engineering and financial support, Cruise will begin development of a new vehicle that is not based on existing cars, the company said. It will be the next step in autonomous driving, completely lacking human controls.

“This is a purpose-built vehicle that will be the first mass-produced vehicle that is freed from the constraints of vehicle design and has the driver behind the wheel,” said GM President Donald Amman.

Amman did not provide a specific time frame for when Cruise Automation’s self-driving vehicles will carry members of the general public, either in the Bolt EV or the new car. The cars will only be deployed when it is decided that they are safe enough, Amman enough.

Japanese technology-based investment bank Softbank invested $2.25 billion in Cruise, with Honda taking a $750 million stake. Together, the Honda and Softbank investments value Cruiser at $14.6 billion.

“Self-driving vehicles are not just a Silicon Valley-based dream,” said Zo Rahim, research manager at automotive media company Cox Automotive. “Today’s auto manufacturers are poised to decide the future direction and growth of mass mobility.”

GM shares rose 2% on Wednesday.

Honda and GM have been working together on battery technology for electric cars and hydrogen fuel cells, which extract energy electricity from hydrogen gas. The new partnership with Cruise Automation grew out of the two companies’ previous work.

GM ( GM ) boasts that, with the autonomous Bolt EV, it is the only company currently building autonomous vehicles on a production line. The companies would not say where or when the new vehicle will be produced.