GM’s Cruise robotaxi unit offers driverless rides in Phoenix, Austin this year According to Reuters

© Reuters. A self-driving GM Bolt EV is seen during a media event where Cruise, GM’s autonomous vehicle unit, showcased its self-driving cars in San Francisco, California, U.S. November 28, 2017. REUTERS / Elijah Nouvelage

By Hyunjoo Jin

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – General Motors’ self-driving technology unit Cruise plans to expand its driverless ride-hailing service to include Phoenix, Arizona and Austin, Texas, in 90 days, Cruise CEO said. Kyle Vogt said Monday.

Speaking at a Goldman Sachs (NYSE:) conference, Vogt also said the loss-making Cruise unit aims to reach $1 billion in revenue by 2025 — half of the current annual investment from GM.

In June, Cruise began charging for self-driving rides in San Francisco at night, using the Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle. Vogt said Cruise already operates 70 concurrent unmanned AVs in San Francisco and plans to double or triple that number by the end of the year.

Vogt said its operations in Austin and Phoenix will initially involve a small number of people and will “generate revenue,” with plans to scale up operations over the next year.

Cruise has obtained all the necessary licenses to use driverless cars for ride-hailing and delivery services in Phoenix, where it has been testing its self-driving delivery service with Walmart (NYSE:) , one of its investors.

Alphabet’s Waymo (NASDAQ:) operates a driverless taxi service in suburban Phoenix. In San Francisco, Waymo offers free auto rides to a limited number of people with safety drivers on board.

Some investors are stepping back from riskier bets on the technology and reassessing that robotic vehicles of any kind will soon be deployed on a large scale on public roads.

Vogt said the self-driving car industry has gone from “extremely optimistic” to “extremely pessimistic,” but this is about to change.

“I think people will be caught off guard by the speed of the AV (autonomous vehicle) from the very first ride that you have used everywhere.

Cruise has recalled and updated software on 80 self-driving cars after a June crash in San Francisco that injured two people.

Vogt acknowledged “several points of difficulty that we have to continue to work through” but said AV technology “is no longer the main bottleneck”.

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