Talk of AVs, EVs and geofencing will replace horsepower, fuel efficiency and cylinders in the week ahead for General Motors.
The automaker holds a webcast Thursday promising to “share our vision for an autonomous future.”
What it means is cars and trucks without drivers.
The 110-year-old company is embracing a zero-emission, driverless future. In early October, GM’s head of product development, Mark Reuss, made the bold pronouncement that “General Motors believes in an all-electric future.” It may take another step into that future Thursday as it lays out its future for driverless vehicles.
Never miss a local story.
This is a remarkable transition for the company that declared bankruptcy in 2009. It was helped by an infusion of government money. The loans were paid back, but the government lost money on its GM stock.
Shareholders, though, have been rewarded this year. GM shares are up 24 percent, compared with the 16 percent rally for the S&P 500-stock index.
Under CEO Mary Barra, General Motors is betting on electric vehicles, especially autonomous cars, to fuel its future. The company has been dropping hints for weeks that it will launch its own fleet of driverless electric cars in the next few years. More specifics on any ride-sharing type initiative could be part of its Thursday announcement.
Former GM vice chairman GM Bob Lutz wrote in Automotive News this month that the auto industry is “approaching the end of the automotive era.” He calls the cars, SUVs and trucks of the future “modules” and thinks the soon-to-be old-fashioned way of driving, with a human behind the wheel, will be outlawed in the next 20 years. Autonomy behind the wheel is just safer, he argued.
All this may sound like science fiction now. On Thursday, GM has an opportunity to map out its action plan making that fantasy a reality and how it will make a profit along the way.
Financial journalist Tom Hudson hosts “The Sunshine Economy” on WLRN-FM in Miami. Follow him on Twitter @HudsonsView.