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Lyft gets $500M boost from General Motors for driverless cars

By Ed Adamczyk Follow @adamczyk_ed Contact the Author   |   Jan. 4, 2016 at 11:35 AM

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- The ride-sharing company Lyft announced Monday it raised $1 billion, half from General Motors, which will be a business partner for its planned use of driverless cars.

The investment brings Lyft's valuation to about $5.5 billion. The company competes with Uber and other firms specializing in uniting a customer in search of a ride with a driver or shared car. While GM will initially work with Lyft to establish short-term car rental hubs, the partnership plans to eventually see self-driving GM vehicles in Lyft's inventory of available cars.

GM has identified ride-sharing as the fastest-growing new transportation model, and is eager to invest in, and use, Lyft as a test-bed for its driverless car projects. Google, Tesla and Uber are among companies racing to perfect the network of what the industry calls the "autonomous on-demand network of self-driving cars."

Although the concept of shared rides could be injurious to car manufacturers, GM says it welcomes an opportunity to be a part of the changing business model.

"We think there's going to be more change in the world of mobility in the next five years than there has been in the last 50. From a GM perspective, we view this as much more of an opportunity than a threat," said GM President Daniel Ammann, who will join the Lyft board of directors.

Other investors identified in Lyft's Monday announcement are the Saudi Arabia-based Kingdom Holding Co., Janus Capital Management, Japan's Rakuten, and the Chinese companies Didi Kuaidi and Alibaba.

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