GM's driverless car company Cruise has raised another $1.15 billion from a group comprised of SoftBank, Honda, General Motors (GM), and T. Rowe Price Associates, raising its post-money valuation to $19 billion.
"Developing and deploying self-driving vehicles at massive scale is the engineering challenge of our generation," Cruise CEO Dan Ammann said. "Having deep resources to draw on as we pursue our mission is a critical competitive advantage."
The new equity follows the company receiving a $2.25 billion investment from SoftBank's vision fund in May 2018 for a 19.6% stake. The initial SoftBank investment was split into two parts, with the first tranche of $900 million made at the closing of the transaction. The second tranche of $1.35 billion will be made once Cruise's autonomous vehicles are ready for commercial deployment, the companies said at the time.
Cruise also received a $2.75 billion investment for a 5.7% stake in October 2018. Like the SoftBank investment, Honda's $2.75 billion has also been split into two parts, with the first tranche of $750 million being given in October for the equity stake, and the remaining $2 billion to be given over 12 years in development work and fees.
"Honda will work with Cruise and GM to develop an innovative, space-efficient autonomous vehicle that delivers an exceptional experience and minimizes congestion on crowded city streets," Cruise co-founder Kyle Vogt said at the time.
In the last year, Cruise has secured capital commitments totaling $7.25 billion, the company said.
Cruise revealed its first fully driverless car, a Chevrolet Bolt EV lacking a wheel or pedals, in January 2018.
According to ZDNet's sister site CNET, Cruise intends to use these funds to expand its operations and introduce a self-driving taxi service that is similar to Google's Waymo One. To that end, Cruise said last month that it hopes to hire around 1,000 people over the course of the year.
Cruise was acquired by GM in 2016, with the then-startup initially being known for its conversion kit that could transform certain types of cars into autonomous vehicles.
Elon Musk reckons Tesla has already won the race for fully autonomous vehicle technology.
GM said the investment, which values Cruise at $11.5 billion, will drive large-scale autonomous vehicle deployment.
General Motors' subsidiary Cruise Automation plans to test fully autonomous vehicles in lower Manhattan.
Some of Waymo's biggest customers are expected to be other businesses, including Walmart and Avis, that want to provide rides for their own customers.
Autonomous cars are not ready for public deployment (TechRepublic)
Despite the hype surrounding self-driving cars, human intervention is consistently required for its functionality, according to Consumer Watchdog.