Cruise, a driverless car unit of General Motors, has decided to enter into a long-term strategic partnership with tech giant Microsoft to speed up the commercialization of driverless vehicles. Under this partnership, these companies will bring together their expertise in software and hardware engineering along with manufacturing know-how to provide a safer and cleaner mode of transportation. As part of this, Microsoft has announced a funding of USD 2 billion for Cruise. After the funding from Microsoft, the total valuation of the autonomous driving company has reached USD 30 billion.
The latest round of funding comes after days of hardship the company faced in 2020. The company had to halt the testing of driverless vehicles because of the coronavirus pandemic. the fresh investment has made Cruise a better competitor with other companies developing self-driving vehicles. The closest competitor is Waymo, which is owned by Alphabet, with a value of slightly more than USD 30 billion. Cruise CEO Dan Ammann said that their aim is to make transportation more affordable. “The partnership will definitely be a force multiplier and will help to achieve the target. Especially when we are on the verge of commercializing our fleet,” he said.
General Motors said Cruise is planning to launch around 30 new electric vehicles by 2025. Cruise is expected to utilize Microsoft’s Azure to unlock the potential of cloud computing. The partnership will also help Microsoft to understand and benefit from the deep industry expertise of Cruise. For the uninitiated, Cruise was founded by Kyle Vogt and Dan Kan in 2013. A few years later, General Motor bought it for more than USD 1 billion. When Cruise was bought in 2016, it just had 40 employees. That number has now increased to almost 2,000. Cruise has been experimenting in various things. It unveiled the Origin in 2020. It was an all-electric vehicle that resembled a lounge on wheels. The bulk of testing for Origin is done by Chevy Bolts with a back-up driver.