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GM to test, produce self-driving cars

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General Motors announces move to challenge Tesla

CHICAGO General Motors announced it is expanding testing and manufacturing of autonomous vehicle technology tied to its Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle, in a move challenging younger upstart Tesla.

The announcement - and the first deliveries of mid-priced, all-electric Chevy Bolts earlier this week - manoeuvres GM into competition with the electric car maker that has made waves with its high-priced luxury models.

Tesla is planning to produce a mid-priced vehicle next year.

GM will begin manufacturing a fleet of autonomous test vehicles at a Detroit-area plant, CEO Mary Barra announced at a news conference.

Ms Barra said: "We expect GM will become the first high-volume auto manufacturer to build fully autonomous vehicles at a mass production assembly plant."

She did not give a specific date.

The test vehicles will be Chevy Bolts outfitted with a suite of autonomous technology such as LIDAR - a radar system using lasers - cameras, sensors and other hardware.

GM will also expand testing of autonomous vehicles, or AVs, on the streets of Detroit.

The company already tests 40 vehicles in San Francisco and Scottsdale, Arizona.

The Detroit expansion will allow testing of autonomous technology in winter conditions, Ms Barra said.

"By adding Michigan to our public testing program, we're ensuring that our AVs can operate safely across a full range of road, weather and climate conditions," she said.

The company began its first deliveries of Chevy Bolt electric vehicles, without autonomous technology, on Tuesday, beating Tesla to market in the moderate price range. - REUTERS

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