GM pursues autonomous ride-share as 'biggest business opportunity since Internet'

GM expects to launch autonomous ride-sharing within 2 years

Super confident GM says its driverless cars will hit city streets by 2019

The automaker's president Dan Ammann reportedly said during the event that GM now makes about $30,000 per sold vehicle, but that it could make hundreds of thousands per vehicle through ride-hailing and delivery services. Earlier this month, GM said it would launch a range of electric vehicles in 2021 in a direct challenge to market leader Tesla, which is struggling to ramp up its more affordable, high-volume Model 3.

GM has enjoyed a recent surge in its share price, as investors bet on its plans for self-driving and electric cars, although the company's profit is driven entirely by demand for trucks and SUVs in North America, and its growing sales in China. GM added that there was still much more hard engineering work to be done.

Delphi, an automotive supplier, has said it expects commercial vehicles to be using its autonomous system in limited areas in 2019.

Like Ford and other big name self-driving technology developers, including Uber and Google's Waymo, GM sees autonomous vehicles as the keystones of future transport. Delphi recently bought autonomous software startup NuTonomy and would also partner with BMW AG, chipmaker Intel Corp and camera and visual recognition software maker Mobileye. Granted, Cruise has operated a pilot ride-sharing program for its employees in San Francisco for the past few months.

The largest USA automaker's plan for a self-driving car-sharing service comes at a time when auto sales in its home market are slowing after a record seven-year streak of gains.

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GM President Dan Ammann said the first commercial use of EVs would be in ride-sharing.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, there are about 100 test Bolts (with a human inside) already driving autonomously around crowded San Francisco - a challenging environment considering the bustling streets rife with avid bikers, trolleys, and traffic. He wouldn't say if the service would involve ride-hailing company Lyft, in which GM has invested $500 million.

Vogt said those issues would improve over time and that the victor of the self-driving vehicle race would be the one that first launches at "massive scale" rather than just being the first to market a model.

The analyst said it made business sense for the different mobility services such as Lyft and Uber to shoulder initial expenses for the costly autonomous and electric vehicles. The stock slipped 0.8 percent to $43.44 as of 12:20 p.m. Thursday in NY.

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