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GM promises to 'commercialize' autonomous Chevy Bolt in 2019

by Justin King

A factory selection announcement indirectly fires back at a report claiming the company could be a decade away from bringing autonomous cars to market.

Perhaps firing back at recent allegations of problems within its Cruise division, General Motors has announced plans to build production versions of its autonomous Chevrolet Bolt at its Orion Township assembly plant in Michigan.

"The Cruise AV, which the company plans to commercialize in 2019, is the first production-ready vehicle built from the ground up to operate safely on its own with no driver, steering wheel, pedals or manual controls," the company says.

The announcement comes just days after a Cruise insider claimed the company is having difficulty refining software necessary to deploy a commercial fleet. Operating only in San Francisco, the autonomous prototype Bolts are allegedly accident-prone and programmed to avoid many 'blacklisted' streets and intersections.

GM's announcements so far have focused on hardware production, while software is generally viewed as the critical breakthrough technology needed to begin giving taxi rides to the general public without a safety driver behind the wheel.

GM expects to spend $100 million to upgrade the Orion Township plant and the nearby Brownstown facility, where the Cruise AV's roof-mounted sensor pods will be manufactured. The company says its "fourth-generation" autonomous Bolt will enter production by 2019.