General Motors was not able to get an electric vehicle finished in time to show at CES in January, but the vehicle in question will be ready for viewing in the first half of the year, said GM CEO Mary Barra.
The original plan was to show a vehicle at CES, but that was before a lengthy strike during negotiations with the United Automobile Workers union (UAW).
“We had a plan to go to CES and frankly we can’t go to CES without putting our best foot forward and we could not get the models done that we wanted to get done with the strike, frankly,” explained spokesman Tony Cervone. “We had a plan, we worked like hell,” he said, but the automaker was not going to cross picket lines to move concepts out of studios or take dies out of plants to get the vehicle ready.
Barra would not provide the specifics of the vehicle, saying only that it focuses on the two areas where GM is committed for the future: electric vehicles and autonomous technology. “You’ll see us tell that story in different forms.”
The CES car was originally thought to be the latest autonomous vehicle from GM and Cruise, but an invitation from Cruise for an event later in January suggests we will see the new robotaxi then. GM bought Cruise in 2016
GM’s work with Cruise on fully self-driving vehicles started with a version of the Chevrolet Bolt with lidar sensors on the roof and evolved into a bespoke, production-ready, fully autonomous car called Cruise AV that is made at the Orion Assembly Plant in Michigan. With each generation it becomes a more advanced dedicated, self-driving electric sedan.
It’s expected that the model planned later in January at a Cruise media event in San Francisco will be the latest version of the Cruise AV.
As testing continues, the team realized the deadline to have an operational fleet of robotaxis in place by the end of 2019 was unrealistic.
“Not only is it a technology race, it’s a trust race and we’re doing a lot in San Francisco where we’re making sure consumers will understand the vehicles, understand the development, understand the technology, and we think that’s very important,” she said. The mindset is to demonstrate that the self-driving vehicle is safer than a human driver.