General Motors has announced a $100 million investment to upgrade two manufacturing facilities in Michigan, a move that strengthens the company’s ongoing commitment to automated driving. The announcement comes on the heels of Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra’s presentation during the annual CERAWeek energy conference in Houston, Texas on March 7th.
“With human error still the leading cause of crashes, ultimately self-driving cars can help save many of the 1.25 million people around the world who are killed in crashes every year,” she said during the event.
Production-versions of the Cruise AV (autonomous vehicle) are scheduled for assembly at GM’s Orion Township facility, with the roof modules for the self-driving vehicles coming from the Brownstown Battery Assembly Plant, about an hour from Lake Orion. GM notes the investment will help upgrade both facilities accordingly.
The Cruise AV is the first production-ready vehicle built from the ground up, according to GM. The automaker says it can operate safely on its own with no driver, steering wheel, pedals, or manual controls. Earlier this year, GM’s Self-Driving Safety Report detailed how the Cruise AV will accomplish this through things like advanced LiDAR and Comprehensive Risk Management.
“We’re continuing to make great progress on our plans to commercialize in 2019,” said Dan Ammann, President, General Motors. “Our Orion and Brownstown teams have proven experience in building high-quality self-driving test vehicles and battery packs, so they are well-prepared to produce the Cruise AV.”
“The UAW is committed to preparing our members for the future of advanced mobility and this investment recognizes our willingness to work together to build these self-driving vehicles,” added Cindy Estrada, Vice President and Director, UAW General Motors Department.
Since January 2017, UAW Local 5960 workers at the Orion plant have assembled three generations of Cruise self-driving test vehicles for use in the most challenging urban environments, including downtown San Francisco. More than 200 test vehicles have already been assembled at Orion. The Orion plant will continue to build the Chevrolet Bolt EV and Sonic in addition to the Cruise AV.