General Motors sees custom designs, private ownership for self-driving cars

General Motors

General Motors, which prepares a ride-sharing fleet of robotaxis for 2018, is exploring at further business opportunities for self-driving cars, including custom designs that could be almost unrecognizable from those of present, a top executive stated on Thursday.

Custom-designed vehicles could be owned or rented by individual customers, consisting of those outside of large cities, and used in peer-to-peer vehicle sharing applications, stated Mike Abelson, GM’s vice president of global strategy.

The automaker is “thinking about several models” to drive income from self-driving cars, as per Abelson, discussing at Citi’s Car of the Future conference in New York.

Abelson, one of the major architects of GM’s future transportation business, stated self-driving cars used for ride sharing “are going to evolve quickly into purpose-built vehicles” that do not appear like conventional cars.

While GM initially is utilizing specially modified versions of the Chevrolet Bolt EV for its robotaxi fleet in the next year, the automaker’s next wave of driverless automobiles will do away with the steering wheel and pedals, and could show different seating arrangements.

The design of the vehicles would be continually adjusted to provide clients with “a more appealing experience,” he stated.

Others have speculated that hoods could shorten, where as passengers sit under a glass bubble.

Early leaders in deploying self-driving cars, including as General Motors and Alphabet Inc’s Waymo, “will have the opportunity to take a lead in new business models that will drive their companies’ profitability,” stated John Hoffecker, vice chairman of consultants AlixPartners.

Abelson stated the automaker believes personally owned self-driving vehicles “will be a big business in the future,” especially in sparsely populated rural locations where ride sharing may not reach for years.

The automaker’s commercial ride sharing business is anticipated to drive down the expense of self-driving cars in the future, Abelson stated.

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