General Motors to launch autonomous ride hailing service by 2019

GM tested a self-driving Chevy Bolt in San Francisco on Tuesday

GM tested a self-driving Chevy Bolt in San Francisco on Tuesday

"We think this represents one of the biggest business opportunities of all time, since the creation of the Internet, " Dan Ammann, GM's president and chief of autonomous vehicle strategy, told investors.

The automaker's president Dan Ammann reportedly said during the event that GM now makes about $30,000 per sold vehicle, but that it could make hundreds of thousands per vehicle through ride-hailing and delivery services.

"For GM to get the benefit they're looking for, they need these cars on the road at scale as soon as possible", said Navigant Research analyst Sam Abuelsamid.

"Looking for a clear path" screens facing the driver and passengers read several times during the trip, when the auto stopped next to some traffic cones or behind double-parked vehicles. GM added that there was still much more hard engineering work to be done.

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Some of GM's share surge has come from investors betting on its investments in self-driving and electric cars, although the company's profits are driven entirely by demand for trucks and SUVs in North America, and its growing sales in China.

Delphi, an automotive supplier, has said it expects commercial vehicles to be using its autonomous system in limited areas in 2019.

GM says operating its self-driving cars will cost 40 percent less per mile than other ride-hailing firms that have to pay drivers. Delphi recently bought autonomous software startup NuTonomy and is also partnering with BMW AG, chipmaker Intel Corp. and camera and visual recognition software maker Mobileye. An employee in the back will be able to stop the vehicle by pushing a button but won't be able to steer the vehicle. GM believes it's too early to discuss branding, but the first cars will likely be versions of the Chevy Bolt EVs Cruise is testing now.

Abuelsamid said it makes business sense for mobility services like Uber and Lyft to shoulder the initial expenses of costly electric and autonomous vehicles.

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

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 past year.

The slides posted on GM's website also say the company is the leader in the field, but is focused on self-driving vehicles safety.

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