General Motors Company [NYSE:GM] today announced it is entering a long-term strategic alliance with Uber-rival Lyft to create an on-demand ride-sharing service that will rely on a fleet of autonomous cars. GM will supply the vehicles and autonomous technology while Lyft will provide its growing network of customers and various ride-sharing services.
It certainly sounds like science fiction at this point but GM is serious about the venture, so much so that it is investing as much as $500 million in Lyft. As part of the deal, GM will also hold a seat on Lyft’s board of directors.
“We see the future of personal mobility as connected, seamless and autonomous,” GM President Dan Ammann said in a statement. “With GM and Lyft working together, we believe we can successfully implement this vision more rapidly.”
Lyft was only founded in 2012 though it is part of Zimride, which was founded in 2007 to focus on ride sharing between cities. Lyft, on the other hand, focuses on shorter trips within a city. Among Lyft’s investors are a firm run by Saudi Arabian Prince Alwaleed bin Talal as well as Chinese tech giant Alibaba.
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While it might be quite a few years until cars that can travel without a human driver are allowed on public roads, GM and Lyft will be able to co-operate in other ways in the meantime. For example, GM will become a preferred provider of on-demand vehicles to drivers through rental hubs located in various cities.
The news comes just weeks after Ford Motor Company [NYSE:F] was reported to be in talks with Google over a similar deal. Google, of course, has been developing its own autonomous technology as well as its own ride-sharing service as part of its Waze traffic app.