GM, Lyft, and the Dream of On-Demand Driverless Cars

January 4, 2016 9:49 PM

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GM, Lyft, and the Dream of On-Demand Driverless Cars

Five years ago, a $500 million investment in a ride-hailing service that aspires to use driverless cars would have sounded bizarre. At that time, Uber was a young startup worth just $60 million and Lyft, its closest U.S. competitor, hadn’t even launched yet. Nowadays, the two companies are both valued in the billions—Uber at over $60 billion and Lyft at $4.5 billion—and a recent McKinsey report predicts that driverless cars will make up 15 percent of the global automotive market by 2030. As both of these technologies have matured, their potential combination has become an alluring prospect: the end of car ownership, replaced by a circulating fleet of driverless cars, waiting to be summoned by a smartphone request.

With that in mind, it’s not so startling that on Monday, Lyft announced that it had received a $500 million investment from General Motors, and that the two companies would be partnering to work on developing a network of on-demand driverless cars. Under this partnership, GM will also start providin...

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