Cruise to Get $1.35B More From SoftBank to Commercialize Autonomous Vehicles

The General Motors spinout is also offering self-driving car rides to the public in San Francisco.

Cruise

Cruise says its team is dedicated to building safe, sustainable, and efficient transit.

Cruise LLC yesterday announced that the SoftBank Vision Fund will invest another $1.35 billion toward commercializing its autonomous vehicles. The General Motors Co. spinoff also said it has opened rides from its staff to the public in San Francisco.

“The SoftBank Vision Fund initially invested $900 million in Cruise in 2018,” said Kyle Vogt, co-founder, chief technology officer, and interim CEO. “They agreed to invest an additional $1.35 billion when we started operating fully driverless cars. I’m pleased to announce we’ve officially hit that milestone!”

Founded in 2013, Cruise has been developing self-driving vehicles such as the Origin shuttlebus. GM acquired the San Francisco-based company in 2016. Last April, Walmart Inc. joined investments of more than $750 million. In December, President Dan Ammann left Cruise.

SoftBank backs full-stack approach to autonomy

SoftBank's investment was made in two tranches, with the first being $900 million in 2018.

Now that Cruise claims its autonomous vehicles are ready for deployment, the Vision Fund will complete the second tranche of $1.35 billion, subject to regulatory approval. This will result in the SoftBank Vision Fund owning a 19.6% equity stake in Cruise and will provide GM increased flexibility with respect to capital allocation, said the companies.

Cruise had originally planned for commercialization at scale in 2019 but delayed it because of safety and regulatory concerns.

Cruise leader of the pack in AV investments

Autonomous vehicle companies raised more than $22 billion last year. Here are 10 of the largest transactions of 2021:

Company Location Amount (M$) Transaction Date
Cruise San Francisco 2,750 Investments 4/15/2021
Waymo Mountain View, Calif. 2,500 Investments 6/16/2021
Xpeng Hong Kong 2,000 IPO 6/24/2021
Momenta Beijing 1,200 Series C, C+ 11/4/2021
TuSimple San Diego 1,081 IPO 4/7//2021
Aurora Pittsburgh 1,000 SPAC 7/15/2021
Plus Cupertino, Calif. 920 SPAC, IPO 6/23/2021
WeRide Guangzhou, China 620 Series B, C 6/23/2021
Embark San Francisco 614 SPAC 6/23/2021
Nuro Mountain View, Calif. 600 Series D 11/2/2021

Public rides now available

GM and Cruise employees have been testing the autonomous vehicles, which have individual names like Sourdough, Tostada, Poppy, and Disco. While people were excited to be riding in self-driving cars, they quickly became bored—as they should, Vogt noted.

“I work on these cars every day, and I’ve seen every inch of progress,” he wrote in a blog post. “Just three months ago, I took the first-ever fully driverless ride in a major U.S. city, and it was incredible.”

“When Sourdough arrived, with no one inside, and took me for a quiet ride through the streets of San Francisco, it became clear to me that we’ve built something very special,” said Vogt. “Now it’s time for us to share it.”

A signup page is available to the public. 

About the Author

Eugene Demaitre's avatar
Eugene Demaitre

Eugene Demaitre is editorial director of Robotics 24/7. Prior to joining Peerless Media, he was a senior editor at Robotics Business Review and The Robot Report. Demaitre has also worked for BNA (now part of Bloomberg), Computerworld, and TechTarget. He has participated in numerous robotics-related webinars, podcasts, and events worldwide.

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Cruise

Cruise says its team is dedicated to building safe, sustainable, and efficient transit.


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