General Motors (NYSE: GM) has hit a new milestone in becoming the first car manufacturer to mass-produce an autonomous car. The Chevrolet Bolt EV is a battery-powered vehicle capable of achieving over 230 miles per charge, and now GM has announced that 130 next generation Bolt test vehicles have been completed.
The new Bolt features GM’s latest technology in autonomous driving, which in itself is not a new idea, but coupled with GM’s infrastructure and production capabilities this is a major play. The ability to mass produce this car means that GM can start rolling them en mass for the public at a date to be decided on this summer. The 130 cars join the 50 previously completed cars which are being used for test drives in various cities around the country. This is done in an effort to log more data and test the autonomous aspect in real world situations prior to release, GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra says; “Expansion of our real-world test fleet will help ensure that our self-driving vehicles meet the same strict standards for safety and quality that we build into all of our vehicles.”
While Tesla has been an early player in electric vehicles and are pushing the envelope in autonomous, self-driving cars, the goals of these two companies are somewhat different. Whilst Tesla can certainly claim to be the industry leader and have a luxury aspect to them, the Bolt is about further testing and perfecting the technologies in self-driving vehicles. The mass production of these vehicles makes this more possible, and the Bolt can quickly become a basis for further innovations in ride-sharing and public transportation. “To achieve what we want from self-driving cars, we must deploy them at scale” conceded Cruise Automation CEO Kyle Vogt, but the potential is high.