Cruise, the self-driving startup backed by General Motors, said Walmart and institutional investors have joined a previously announced funding round, boosting the total haul to $2.75 billion. That may also make it the industry’s best-funded autonomous tech developer.
Walmart joined a round initially disclosed in January that included Microsoft and which, at the time, Cruise said brought in $2 billion. San Francisco-based Cruise didn’t immediately identify the other investors that, along with the retail giant, accounted for the $750 million increase. Led by former GM President Dan Ammann, Cruise estimates its current valuation is more than $30 billion. It also counts Honda and Softbank as investors and partners.
“This investment is a marker for us. It shows our commitment to bringing the benefit of self-driving cars to our customers and business,” John Furner, Walmart’s president and CEO for the U.S., said in a blog post. The companies began working together on a delivery pilot program in Scottsdale, Arizona, in November 2020 and “we’ve been impressed with Cruise’s differentiated business model, unique technology and unmatched driverless testing,” he said.
Cruise’s focus is developing technology for a robotaxi service it plans to launch first in San Francisco, before expanding to other markets. This week it also announced plans to launch a commercial ride service in Dubai, setting up operations there in 2023 and scaling up to a fleet of 4,000 electric, autonomous vehicles by the end of the 2020s. Since missing an early target to launch a commercial ride service in San Francisco by the end of 2019, Cruise has refrained from announcing a revised target date.
The additional funding raises closely-held Cruise’s cumulative haul to $10 billion, an amount that may surpass even that of Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo, the oldest, largest and, up to now, best-funded autonomous vehicle program. Waymo raised a total of $3 billion from outside investors in 2020, the first external funding round in its history, but hasn’t disclosed how much money Google poured into it over the previous decade.
“Self-driving cars will make transportation safer, cleaner and more accessible for everyone,” Cruise’s Ammann said in a statement. “Making this happen requires a clear mission, world-class talent, great partners and a lot of capital.”