In Brief
Industry veteran General Motors announced this week that it has finished mass-producing Chevrolet Bolt EV test vehicles. These autonomous cars can potentially catapult GM into the forefront of the growing self-driving car market.

GM Joins the Race

There’s a potential new major player in the autonomous vehicle industry, and its a seasoned player in the automotive market. Veteran car maker General Motors (GM) announced Tuesday that it’s completed 10 self-driving test vehicles of its Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle (EV). The cars were manufactured at the company’s plant in Lake Orion, Michigan. GM believes the achievement could position the company at the head of the autonomous car race.

“The autonomous vehicles you see here today are purpose-built, self-driving test vehicles,” GM’s chairman and CEO Mary Barra told her employees Tuesday morning, USA Today reported. GM has the platform and the technology to back up its claim: it’s the first car manufacturer to mass produce self-driving vehicles.

“The level of integration in these vehicles is on par with any of our production vehicles, and that is a great advantage. In fact, no other company today has the unique and necessary combination of technology, engineering and manufacturing ability to build autonomous vehicles at scale,” Barra added.

Image credit: General MotorsImage credit: General Motors

Growing a Niche Market

GM, however, didn’t rush to mass production when it came to the development of test versions of the Chevy Bolt EV. In addition to the efficiency inherent to electric vehicles, the cars are also designed to be more affordable than other EVs on the market. “To achieve what we want from self-driving cars, we must deploy them at scale,” Cruise Automation CEO Kyle Vogt said in a press release. “By developing the next-generation self-driving platform in San Francisco and manufacturing these cars in Michigan, we are creating the safest and most consistent conditions to bring our cars to the most challenging urban roads that we can find.”

Currently, autonomous vehicles are still part of a rather niche market, though a number of studies seem to indicate that soon may change. One predicts that by 2024, the demand for self-driving vehicles will have grown to 138,089 units — a huge jump from the current demands. Not only that, a previous study, published in 2014, concluded that the autonomous vehicle market would grow to $87 billion by 2030.

Image credit: Grand View ResearchImage credit: Grand View Research
Clearly, GM is in the right path. While Tesla may have joined the autonomous vehicle game earlier, GM’s ability to mass produce these self-driving cars will certainly give it an edge in this growing market. Not to be outdone, Tesla is doubling up efforts, too: the company has already indicated their plan to build more Gigafactories in the near future.