Walmart has led a US$2.75 billion investment into self-driving carmaker Cruise, valuing the company at $30 billion.
The investment marks increasing faith in the concept by the international retail giant which has already partnered with Cruise in a trial delivery service in Scottsdale, Arizona, announced last November.
“Over the years we’ve been doing a lot to learn more about the role autonomous vehicles can play in retail, and we’ve seen enough to know it’s no longer a question of if they’ll be scaled, but when,” said John Furner, president and CEO at Walmart US, explaining the investment.
He said the new funds would help San Francisco-based Cruise work with Walmart to achieve its goal of developing a last-mile delivery ecosystem “that’s fast, low-cost and scalable”.
Cruise’s all-electric fleet of self-driving cars – based on the Chevrolet Bolt EV – has already attracted substantial investment from Microsoft, General Motors and Honda.
Furner said Walmart has been impressed by Cruise’s “differentiated business model” since the two companies began their pilot project last year, its unique technology and unmatched driverless testing. “We also value our shared commitment to a zero emissions future.
“As delivery has become a staple in our customers’ lives, we’re focused on growing our last-mile ecosystem in a way that’s beneficial for everyone – customers, business and the planet. With their all-electric fleet powered by 100-per-cent renewable energy, Cruise is a natural partner as we work to take collective action on climate change,” Furner said.
“We’re doing this not only in our own operations where we are targeting zero emissions by 2040 and have set a goal to be powered by 100-per-cent renewable energy by 2035, but also throughout the supply chain and our environmental initiative, Project Gigaton, one of the largest private sector consortiums for climate action.”
Meanwhile, Cruise says it plans to begin deploying a limited number of its Origin vehicles for ride-hailing services in Dubai from 2023, its first overseas commercial service.
“We are focused on our path to commercialisation right now but the IPOs happening in the space right now are a great indication of the strength of the industry and the opportunity self-driving presents,” a Cruise spokeswoman told Reuters in a statement.
- Additional reporting from Reuters.