May 31, 2018

SoftBank investing $2.25 billion into GM's self-driving program

Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

General Motors on Thursday announced that SoftBank Vision Fund will invest $2.25 billion into its self-driving program, with plans to commercialize such vehicles next year.

Bigger picture: This is a super-charging of Cruise, a self-driving startup that GM bought for nearly $1 billion in 2016. It's also further complicates the self-driving and ride-share web, as GM is a major investor in Lyft while SoftBank is a major investor in Uber.

  • GM will also invest an additional $1.1 billion into the Cruise program.
  • SoftBank's investment is split into two parts: $900 million upfront, and the other $1.35 billion after commercialization. Once complete, SoftBank would hold a 19.6% stake in GM Cruise.
  • SoftBank did explore investing in other auto OEMs during its due diligence process, but believed GM offered superior scale and speed to market.
  • The deal does not have exclusivity for either side, but both have agreed to a 7-year hold period before seeking liquidity.
  • GM declined to give a specific time in 2019 for commercialization, nor specific markets.
  • When asked about ride-hail networks, GM exec Dan Ammann said that SoftBank's various relationships give the automaker "enhanced flexibility." That might send a chill through Lyft.
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