GM says it’s serious about commercializing self-driving cars

General Motors Cruise AVGeneral Motors appears serious about putting a self-driving car with no steering wheel or pedals into production next year. The automaker previously showed a rendering of a car interior devoid of manual controls, and now GM has confirmed that this “Cruise AV” will be assembled at its Orion, Michigan, plant in 2019.

“We’re continuing to make great progress in our plans to commercialize in 2019,” GM president Dan Ammann said in a statement. The Orion plant will assemble complete vehicles, while roof modules containing sensors will be assembled at GM’s Brownstown facility. The automaker is spending $100 million to upgrade both plants for autonomous-car production.

The Orion plant builds the Chevrolet Bolt EV electric car and Chevrolet Sonic subcompact. Workers have also been building prototype autonomous Bolt EVs for GM’s Cruise Automation subsidiary since January 2017. GM says about 200 of these cars have been built. Judging by how closely the interior in GM’s rendering resembles that of a Bolt EV, it’s possible that the production-spec Cruise AV will be based on the Chevy electric car as well.

GM’s announcement comes shortly after the release of a report claiming that Cruise Automation is struggling to perfect the software needed for a production-ready self-driving car. While GM claims it is ready to deploy cars with no manual controls, Cruise insider told The Information that it “is likely to be a decade before the cars come into wide use in major cities.”

The source claimed Cruise cars have trouble performing U-turns and driving through construction zones, and that certain streets in cities where Cruise tests have been “blacklisted,” requiring autonomous cars to take longer routes than their human-driven counterparts. But the California Department of Motor Vehicles said Cruise self-driving cars had the second-lowest rate of disengagements from autonomous mode in 2017, behind only Waymo.

GM claims it will be the first automaker to produce self-driving cars in large numbers, but that doesn’t mean it has a clear advantage in the race to automate the roads. Waymo has already received permission from Arizona regulators to operate autonomous cars without human backup drivers, and it’s buying thousands of Chrysler Pacifica minivans in preparation for the launch of an autonomous ridesharing service. Even though Waymo doesn’t own the assembly lines that build those minivans, it may still come out ahead of GM.

Cars

Lyft and Aptiv’s self-driving car program has come a long way (but not far enough)

Many companies talk about self-driving cars, but Lyft and Aptiv are already using a fleet of them to transport paying customers in Las Vegas. Hop in for a close look at the tech of autonomous cars, and the challenges they face.
Cars

Worried about commuting in winter weather? Nissan has the answer

The Nissan Altima midsize sedan is now available with all-wheel drive. To advertise that fact, Nissan's Canadian division slapped some tank-like tracks on an Altima to create a one-off show car.
Cars

Sibling rivalry: 2019 BMW Z4 takes on the 2020 Toyota Supra

BMW and Toyota forged an unlikely partnership when they set out to build a sports car platform together. Here, we examine the similarities and differences between the 2019 Z4 and the 2020 Supra.
Cars

Boutique carmaker Karma Automotive, legendary design firm Pininfarina team up

Karma Automotive is partnering with legendary Italian design firm Pininfarina on future luxury cars. The first product of that partnership will appear later this year, Karma said, without offering other details.
Cars

Prices for using Tesla Supercharging just skyrocketed

Tesla is updating their Supercharging pricing based on local electricity rates and customer demand, which has lead to an increase in charging costs by as much as 33 percent in some regions.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: camera with A.I. director, robot arm assistant

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Cars

Can electric motors finally make three-wheeled cars great?

Every few years, someone tries to sell a three-wheeled vehicle to Americans. Historically, it hasn’t gone very well. We’ve got our suspicions about why people don’t buy trikes, and they boil down to this: a trike is just not a real…
Outdoors

Is Uber planning to put its self-driving tech into bikes and scooters?

Uber reportedly has its eye on building autonomous electric bikes and scooters that ride to a user when summoned by an app. The technology could also be used to make its two-wheelers safer with obstacle avoidance systems.
Cars

Someone just paid supercar money for the very first 2020 Toyota Supra

The 2020 Toyota Supra made its long-awaited debut at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show. The resurrected sports car, famous for a role in The Fast and the Furious, goes on sale in the U.S. this summer.
Cars

Lincoln’s stately, limited-edition flagship sedan sells out in a month

The 1961 Lincoln Continental became a design icon thanks to center-opening "coach doors" (also known as "suicide doors"). Lincoln is bringing those doors back for a special edition of the 2019 Continental.
Cars

Volkswagen is planning a tougher challenge for its all-electric I.D. R

The Volkswagen I.D. R electric race car will head to the Nürburgring for a lap-record attempt. Volkswagen will reportedly aim to set the quickest lap time ever by an electric car with the I.D. R.
Home Theater

Report: Spotify preparing to launch $100 in-car streaming device

According to a report, people familiar with Spotify's plans say the company is readying a dedicated in-car music streamer that will cost $100. It will work with any Bluetooth-enabled audio system and can be controlled by voice.
Cars

Tesla given go-ahead to start deliveries of Model 3 to Europe

Tesla has been given the green light to start deliveries of its Model 3 electric sedan to Europe, giving it the chance to compete more effectively with the likes of BMW, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz in the region's premium car market.
Cars

Royal fans bid big money as Prince Philip ‘car crash parts’ hit eBay

A couple of days after a car crash that involved the 97-year-old husband of Queen Elizabeth II, debris apparently from the scene of the accident showed up on eBay. And people wanted to buy it.