GM Just Bet Half a Billion Dollars on Building Self-Driving Cars With Lyft

Illustration for article titled GM Just Bet Half a Billion Dollars on Building Self-Driving Cars With Lyft

Detroit is more than a little worried about the tech-centric future of automobiles, namely the ones that drive themselves. So it’s no surprise that GM is investing $500 million in Lyft to build a network of autonomous cars. Why not just buy the whole company?!

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Well, that’s not a crazy idea. GM’s massive new investment in the pink mustache crew shows not only an attempt to get into the car service business but also to find a partner in Silicon Valley that will help them keep up with the rumored collaboration between Ford and Google. (Google is also a major investor in Uber, Lyft’s biggest competitor.) Lyft couldn’t sound more thrilled about about the challenge of reinventing mobility with a blue chip company at its back—and on its board since a GM rep will now take a seat there.

“We’ll create the operating system of the future where people will be able to order an experience,” Lyft co-founder John Zimmer told BuzzFeed. “If, you know, you’re heading with your family to Tahoe, you’ll get to order a specific kind of autonomous experience where you get to enjoy movies on your trip or after work you can get a sports Lyft and watch a Clippers game with friends. Now that we have this partnership we can create these sort of experiences with this network.”

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That sounds pretty futuristic! It would also be cool to have a party Lyft playing Interstella 5555 to take you to the club and then a time-for-bed Lyft with Enya music videos to get you home safely But how are you going to make friends with the driver if there isn’t one?

[GM, BuzzFeed]

Image via GM


Contact the author at adam@gizmodo.com.
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DISCUSSION

Why not just buy the whole company?!

Because developing autonomous driving tech for a company and owning a company are completely different things.

With this deal, they invest $500m in R&D for them, and should Lyft go under they can write the investment off as a loss but keep the tech they develop. If they bought Lyft, they would spend $500m to own Lyft, still need to spend another $500m to develop the tech, and only be able to write off the first $500m if Lyft goes under, leaving them $500m in the hole.

What you’re saying is the equivalent of saying “I want to own a McDonalds so I can have all the Big Macs I could ever want for free!”.