Both General Motors and Lyft have ambitious goals to commercialize autonomous taxis in some way, but after teaming up more than two years ago, with the former investing $500 million in the latter, it seems they’ll no longer be pursuing that endeavor together.
The plan originally was for GM and the Uber competitor to eventually co-develop an autonomous, on-demand ride-hailing car network. GM President Dan Ammann got a seat on Lyft’s board, GM would provide Lyft drivers with vehicles, and Lyft would get venture capital financing from the automaker. At the time it was heralded as a very big deal.
But GM CEO Mary Barra distanced the automaker from the ride-hailing company this week, saying that while it still has a financial investment in Lyft, “Right now, though, we have no active projects underway.”
From The Detroit News:
Her confirmation that GM and Lyft are not actively working together on a new project comes a week after GM President Dan Ammann stepped down from Lyft’s board. Maggie Wilderotter, a former telecommunications executive who sits on Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co.’s board with Ammann, will fill his seat.
GM invested $500 million in Lyft in 2016.
We have to wonder what caused the schism, although a lot of this, presumably, has to do with GM’s rapidly accelerated effort to develop autonomous driving technology of its own. The automaker is looking to launch a driverless car pilot program called Cruise in San Francisco as early as this year, Jalopnik recently reported, and it hopes to have cars on the road without a steering wheel and driver as early as 2019.
And as the News notes, GM’s been through a lot of organizational changes in the past year, from selling its perpetually money-losing Opel-Vauxhall division to the French and downsizing its South Korean operations.
Lyft, meanwhile, jumped headfirst into the autonomous car race in 2017, partnering up with several companies to figure out ways to introduce self-driving cars into its ride-hailing network. Some pilot programs are under way, including one Jalopnik tested out in January.
With much of the auto industry teaming up to figure out how, if at all, autonomous cars can work, I think many expected GM and Lyft’s partnership would persist, given the high dollar amount the automaker dumped into the mix. But, alas, it really is a cutthroat world out there.
If you have any intel on how this split happened, let us know.