General Motors at Citi Conference Notes

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Michael Abelson – VP, Global Strategy

Winning in autonomous is going to take scale

“Then the last piece that we’re working on is clearly autonomous. And when we looked at autonomous, we decided that we wanted to supplement our internal resources. So about a year ago we acquired Cruise Automation, a Silicon Valley startup that had been working on autonomous vehicles, and that has gone really well. The Silicon Valley guys bring a set of skills around software and development speed that’s very different from our traditional approach in Detroit. At the same time, we in the core company, we bring to bear our hardware expertise, our engineering expertise, and very importantly, our manufacturing expertise and how do we scale this, because importantly everybody talks about autonomous demo projects, but winning in this space really is getting to scale. It’s not doing demo projects. And so it’s a very big step to go from a demo project to really producing vehicles at scale.”

You’ve got to have the manufacturing know how

“So yes. As we think about it, you’ve got to bring several capabilities to be able to put an autonomous ride sharing vehicle in the field. Certainly one of them is just the basic autonomous technology. You’ve got to be able to develop the system, have it drive safely. You’ve got to then understand what does it mean to deploy these vehicles into a sharing economy? And I would argue between the work we’ve done internally on Maven, as well as the conversations we’ve had with Lyft, we feel like we’re in a good position there. But then I go back to something that sometimes I think people underestimate. You’ve got to be able to make these vehicles at scale and you’ve got to have the manufacturing know how to put thousands and tens of thousands of vehicles out in the field.”