Autonomous vehicle developments are closely tied to the EV market, as the two technologies seem to be developing in tandem. GM’s automation plans, for example, center around the Chevy Bolt EV. So when GM comes closer to releasing a mass market autonomous vehicle, it comes closer to unlocking a whole other market for EVs. Luckily, the Bolt EV is built at GM’s Lake Orion plant, so the coming surge in autonomous vehicle demand seems likely to be met by Michigan-built Bolts.
As we’ve previously reported, GM has been conducting tests in California and Arizona, and the company believes to be within a few quarters of releasing a mass-market, autonomous version of the Bolt. A report from Grand View Research shows that the demand for these vehicles is expected to reach 138,089 units by 2024, representing a significant potential market for the Bolt. Given that EVs are drastically cheaper to operate than gas powered cars, GM is able to make a strong value proposition to potential commercial fleet customers.
In a move that sounds shocking today, but will be commonplace in the coming years, GM announced last month that it plans to mass-produce self driving cars that lack both pedals and a steering wheel by 2019. Like their experimental predecessors, these vehicles will be a new generation of the Bolt. As reported by The Verge, these Bolts will be used as ride hailing vehicles in major cities. Getting electric, autonomous vehicles on the road early is important. Just as EVs battled range anxiety, autonomous vehicles will likely need to overcome safety anxiety. Hopefully, ride hailing services will help normalize the cars.
You can check out GM’s new autonomous vehicle in this YouTube video.