Cruise Control: Microsoft Partners with GM in Self-Driving Vehicle Initiative

Microsoft announced today a strategic long-term relationship with self-driving automaker Cruise, of which General Motors is a majority shareholder. Microsoft joins GM, Honda and other institutional investors with a combined $2 billion equity investment, bringing Cruise’s valuation to $30 billion. Cruise operates as GM’s autonomous car unit.

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The new endeavor strives to bring Microsoft technology, including the cloud computing platform Azure, to Cruise’s self-driving vehicles to “help them scale and make autonomous transport mainstream,” said Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella in a statement.

Cruise specializes in fully electric self-driving fleet vehicles. The manufacturer is currently adding more test vehicles to the fleet but delayed the launch of its autonomous rideshare service. In an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” GM Cruise CEO Dan Ammann stated, “We want to make sure that when we do launch it…we do it with safety, and we do it in a way where we are able to scale it. We’re in a technology race, to bring this technology to market, but we’re also in a trust race to make sure that when we bring a transformational technology like this to society, to the community, that we do it with everybody’s support.”

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Leveraging Microsoft’s cloud technology should enable GM to accelerate its digitization initiatives, including data storage, artificial intelligence and machine learning said a CNBC report.

The venture with Microsoft comes on the heels of a rebranding, new logo and marketing campaign touting the benefits of EVs from legacy automaker GM.

GM (NYSE: GM) was up nearly 5 points by midday Tuesday, a 9.17% jump, while Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) climbed 3.22, or 1.51%. Meanwhile, electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA), after a dip late last week, saw a 10-point climb as it edges toward last week’s high of $850 a share.

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