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General Motors Places $500 Million Bet on Lyft

Ride-sharing app company Lyft today announced that it has raised $1 billion in new funding, including a $500 million investment from General Motors. The additional funds bring to $2 billion the total amount of capital the firm has attracted since it was founded in 2012.

Under the new arrangement, Lyft and GM [Image credit: General Motors] will work together to build a network of on-demand, self-driving cars aimed at redefining the world of personal mobility. The alliance includes plans for GM to establish vehicle rental hubs in cities across the U.S. so Lyft drivers can work without having to own their own cars.

Other investors in this latest funding round for Lyft include Kingdom Holding Company, which put in $100 million, as well as Alibaba, Didi Kuaidi, Janus Capital Management and Rakuten. Lyft said the new investments bring the company’s valuation to $5.5 billion.

Future of Mobility Is ‘Connected, Autonomous’

“We see the future of personal mobility as connected, seamless and autonomous,” GM President Dan Ammann said in a statement. “With GM and Lyft working together, we believe we can successfully implement this vision more rapidly.”

John Zimmer, Lyft’s president and co-founder, added that the new alliance aims to “build a better future by redefining traditional car ownership.”

In addition to jointly developing an on-demand vehicle network and multiple car rental hubs, the two companies also plan to “provide each other’s customers with personalized mobility services and experiences through their respective channels.” GM will also provide Lyft drivers and customers with access to its connected OnStar services.

Race Against Uber, Sidecar, Google

Headquartered in San Francisco, Lyft currently provides its ridesharing app service in numerous cities across the U.S. The company claims to provide around seven million rides per month in more than 190 cities. It also plans to expand to additional markets across the country, as well as internationally.

Lyft’s competitors include Sidecar and Uber, whose various ride-hailing services have disrupted traditional taxi and other transportation businesses in numerous countries around the world since it was founded in 2009.

Like Lyft, Uber is also working to expand beyond its current reliance on user-owned cars to autonomous vehicle services. Last year, it partnered with Carnegie Mellon University to develop self-driving vehicle technology, and is testing such cars in Pittsburgh and Tucson.

In addition to the traditional automakers and app companies like Lyft, tech firms like Google are also hard at work to advance autonomous vehicles and related services. Alphabet, Google’s new parent company, is said to be working on plans to launch autonomous car services in areas like college campuses, military bases and corporate office parks. Google is also reportedly pursuing a partnership with Ford to advance self-driving vehicle technologies.

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