General Motors Co. announced a $100-million capital investment program for two plants in Michigan as it plans to launch production of its Cruise AV self-driving vehicle. The vehicles will be assembled at the Orion Township assembly plant, and roof modules production will begin its Brownstone plant.
GM added that production of the fourth generation Cruise AV is expected to begin in 2019. The electric-powered automated vehicle is projected for use in autonomous ride-sharing fleets.
The Orion plant is currently producing the Chevrolet Sonic and Bolt EV vehicles, with a total output of 5.1 million per year. The Brownstown Battery Assembly Plant produces lithium-ion batteries for GM’s Chevrolet Volt, Malibu Hybrid, Silverado eAssist, GMC Sierra eAssist, Buick LaCrosse Hybrid, and Cadillac CT6 Plug-In vehicles.
The Orion plant has completed three versions of the Cruise AV since January 2017, more than 200 vehicles in all, for use as test vehicles in urban settings.
It’s not known how many of the self-driving vehicles GM plans to produce or the scope of its 2019 launch plans.
In January of this year, the automaker petitioned the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for approval of its fully autonomous vehicle design, which has no steering wheel, brake pedal, or accelerator pedal, as the means for it to launch a ride-sharing service. NHTSA continues to review the petition.
Similar approvals may be needed in various states where GM seeks to introduce its ride-sharing business.
“We’re continuing to make great progress on our plans to commercialize in 2019,” stated GM president Dan Ammann. “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.”