GM Executive Credits Silicon Valley for Accelerating Development of Self-Driving Cars – Wall Street Journal

General Motors and its rivals have been working on autonomous vehicles for several years

A General Motors Co. executive credited Silicon Valley companies, including Alphabet Inc.’s Google car division and Tesla Motors Inc., for accelerating the development of autonomous vehicle technology and shortening the timetable for when safer self-driving cars hit the road.

Richard Holman, a 30-year automotive veteran running GM’s foresight and trends unit, said Tuesday that three years ago most industry participants would have estimated 2035 as a reasonable timetable for self-driving cars. Speaking to a conference in suburban Detroit, Mr. Holman said now most people see that technology being deployed by 2020, if not sooner.

Mr. Holman noted companies like GM and its rivals have been working on autonomous vehicles for several years, and said tech giant Google and electric-car maker Tesla deserve get credited for moving the industry along.

The comments represent a rare nod by a Detroit auto executive to the influence that Silicon Valley has had at reshaping a global auto industry that large international auto makers have long dominated.

Mr. Holman noted many large auto makers take a more “cautious” view than tech companies—“we don’t want to make a mistake,” he said. Silicon Valley’s participation in autonomous vehicle development “forced the issue.”

GM has aggressively pursued ways to keep pace, investing $500 million in ride-hailing service Lyft Inc. and planning a $1 billion purchase of Cruise Automation, a San Francisco autonomous-vehicle developer. Within a year, those three companies will begin testing electric taxis on public roads, Lyft told The Wall Street Journal last week.

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