Qatar v. Ecuador to kick off FIFA World Cup 2022™ on 20 NovemberRead more Webb Fontaine Announces Launch of Niger National Single Window (NNSW) to Bolster TradeRead more Ethiopia: Loan from United Nations Fund Allows Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to Scale Up Fertilizers for Farmers in TigrayRead more How Choosing the Right Printer Helps Small Businesses and Content Creators to Save Time, Maximise Productivity and Achieve GrowthRead more Eritrea: World Breastfeeding WeekRead more Eritrean community festival in Scandinavian countriesRead more IOM: Uptick in Migrants Heading Home as World Rebounds from COVID-19Read more Network International & Infobip to offer WhatsApp for Business Banking Services to Financial Institution Clients across AfricaRead more Ambassador Jacobson Visits Gondar in the Amhara Region to Show Continued U.S. Support for the Humanitarian and Development Needs of EthiopiansRead more Voluntary Repatriation of Refugees from Angola to DR Congo ResumesRead more

GM teams up with Microsoft as electric car market revs

show caption
General Motors, which unveiled a new corporate logo earlier this month, announced that Microsoft was joining its Cruise self-driving venture./AFP
Print Friendly and PDF

Jan 20, 2021 - 09:57 AM

SAN FRANCISCO — General Motors announced an alliance Tuesday with Microsoft on its Cruise autonomous driving venture, combining forces to challenge Tesla and others in an electric car market expected to rev with Joe Biden’s environment-friendly administration in the White House.

The companies have established “a long-term strategic relationship,” and Microsoft will join GM, Honda and institutional investors in a new $2 billion equity investment round, GM and  its Cruise subsidiary said in a press release.

“This is a major shot across the bow from Microsoft to Tesla and Waymo and other EV (electric vehicle) autonomous players that Redmond is on its way,” said Wedbush analyst Dan Ives.

“There is an arms race in the EV world and this is the latest collaborative deal with many more on there way, speaking to this trillion dollar market over the next decade.”

Ives and others think Apple is poised to begin putting its technology to work in self-driving, electric cars although the iPhone maker has remained mum on the subject.

Microsoft Azure is a powerhouse in the cloud computing market, so synching GM electric vehicles with Azure computing and artificial intelligence capabilities promises a boon for the car maker, Ives reasoned.

Microsoft also will provide hardware and software engineering support to GM as part of the alliance, which values Cruise at some $30 billion.

“Our mission to bring safer, better, and more affordable transportation to everyone isn’t just a tech race — it’s also a trust race,” Cruise chief executive Dan Ammann said.

“Microsoft, as the gold standard in the trustworthy democratization of technology, will be a force multiplier for us as we commercialize our fleet of self-driving, all-electric, shared vehicles.”

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said the venture will help GM and Cruise to “scale and make autonomous transportation mainstream.”

Last week, GM announced plans to build a fleet of new electric vans.

Windscreen-free future? 

The partnership comes on the heels of a series of GM announcements to reposition the Detroit giant to compete with Tesla and other newer players.

“It makes a lot of sense,” said Edmunds executive director of insights Jessica Caldwell.

“Microsoft and General Motors, both massive, historical American companies, tackling a problem that companies around the world are working on.”

Companies such as GM are still trying to figure out what the self-driving car of the future looks like, Caldwell added.

Perhaps seats will face each other as in train cars, or there will be no need for front windows or driver seats.

Electric vehicle maker Rivian separately said it raised $2.65 billion in a new funding round valuing the Amazon-backed US company at $26.7 billion.

Investors included Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund and Fidelity Management and Research, according to Rivian.

Amazon is set to launch its own electric delivery vans ordered from the startup.

Waymo, the autonomous car unit of Google-parent Alphabet, late last year opened its robo-taxi project to the general public in the US city of Phoenix, becoming the first widely available driverless ride service.

Early last year, Waymo raised $2.25 billion in its first external funding round to accelerate its deployment of autonomous cars and trucks.

Retrofitted future? 

Global Equities analyst Trip Chowdhry was skeptical of traditional car makers such as GM being able to recreate the mix of technology, manufacturing, logistics, and culture that has been a winning formula for electric car star Tesla.

“You cannot retrofit into the new world,” Chowdhry said while discussing the GM alliance with Microsoft.

Accelerating adoption of electric vehicles is expected to be “top of mind” in the Biden administration, being front-and-center in a framework of green initiatives, according to Ives.

“One of the core underpinnings of the Biden platform will be around pushing clean energy and zero-emissions vehicles with hopes of accelerating the deployment of electric vehicles and public charging outlets by 2030,” Ives said.

  • bio
  • twitter
  • facebook
  • latest posts

LMBCBUSINESS.COM uses both Facebook and Disqus comment systems to make it easier for you to contribute. We encourage all readers to share their views on our articles and blog posts. All comments should be relevant to the topic. By posting, you agree to our Privacy Policy. We are committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion, so we ask you to avoid personal attacks, name-calling, foul language or other inappropriate behavior. Please keep your comments relevant and respectful. By leaving the ‘Post to Facebook’ box selected – when using Facebook comment system – your comment will be published to your Facebook profile in addition to the space below. If you encounter a comment that is abusive, click the “X” in the upper right corner of the Facebook comment box to report spam or abuse. You can also email us.