Cruise, GM’s autonomous vehicle arm, raised another $1.15 billion at a total valuation of $19 billion, according to several media reports including TechCrunch. The new investment adds T. Rowe Price to the list of the company’s investors, as well as increasing Softbank Vision Fund’s and Honda’s financial stake in Cruise ahead of its planned expansion to Seattle.
The increased investment comes at an interesting time for the autonomous vehicle industry. The field is clearly making progress, but it’s also diverging to focus on different use cases. Some companies like Voyage have shifted their focus to special uses like shuttles in retirement villages or, in Optimus’s case, private roads in Brooklyn. Others, like Cruise and Waymo, appear to moving full-steam ahead with an autonomous taxi service in urban areas. And then there’s Tesla, which is the outlier constantly pushing a drastically changed transportation landscape on shrunken time scales that few people take seriously.
As The Verge pointed out, this latest round of investment is but a drop in the bucket on their overall cash flow:
Last May, it announced a $2.25 billion investment from the SoftBank Vision Fund, a major venture investment effort that was started by the Japanese tech giant in 2016. Then, in October, GM said it would team up with Honda to design a purpose-built self-driving car. The Japanese automaker said it would devote $2 billion to the effort over 12 years, including a $750 million equity investment in Cruise.
According to Bloomberg, Cruise is expected to cost GM $1 billion this year.
For all the uncertainty facing the autonomous vehicle industry, the one thing that is for certain is you can raise and then spend a boatload of money chasing the dream.