Walmart Inc. today became the latest investor in General Motor Co.’s Cruise autonomous vehicle unit, increasing a round announced in January that already included Microsoft Corp., Honda Motor Co. Ltd. and others to $2.75 billion.
The exact amount of the investment was not disclosed. The original round in January was described only as above $2 billion.
The decision by Walmart to invest in Cruise came after the two companies entered a partnership in November to pilot a self-driving delivery service in Scottsdale, Arizona. An extension of a pre-existing Walmart service called “Express Delivery,” the Cruise partnership involves the use of electric vehicles powered by renewable energy.
“Cruise is a natural partner as we work to take collective action on climate change,” Walmart U.S. Chief Executive Officer John Furner said in a blog post. “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% renewable energy by 2035 but also throughout the supply chain.”
Furner added that “this investment is a marker for us – it shows our commitment to bringing the benefit of self-driving cars to our customers and business.”
The addition of Walmart to its investor list is another boost for Cruise at a time when the promise of self-driving car technology is finally coming close to fruition.
Market consolidation has also become more common in the market as the technology matures and larger companies, particularly those with ample funding, acquire smaller competitors. Cruise itself acquired autonomous vehicle startup Voyage Auto Inc. in March for an undisclosed price, while its main competitor, Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo LLC, acquired self-driving car software startup Latent Logic Ltd. in December 2019.
Other notable acquisitions include Aurora Innovation Inc. buying the self-driving arm of Uber Technologies for for $4 billion in December and Amazon.com Inc. purchasing Zoox Inc. in a $1.2 billion deal in June.
Cruise has now raised about $8 billion in funding since GM started accepting external investors into the company in May 2018, according to data from Crunchbase. One of the largest investors in Cruise to date is the SoftBank Vision Fund, which gained approval to invest $2.2 billion into the company in July 2019.
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