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MarketScreener Homepage  >  Equities  >  Nyse  >  General Motors Company    GM


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Auto Makers Bet on Augmented Reality Startup

10/07/2020 | 09:15am EST

By Marc Vartabedian

The venture capital arms of General Motors Co. and Chinese auto giant SAIC Motor Corp., among other investors, have acquired minority stakes in a startup developing hologram technology for autonomous driving systems.

GM Ventures and SAIC Capital, along with South Korean parts-maker Hyundai Mobis and others, invested $50 million into Envisics Inc. The Milton Keynes, U.K.-based startup builds hardware and software that use a vehicle's windshield to project graphics and information that keys drivers into how the car's autonomous system sees the road ahead.

The startup's technology includes a holographic modulator and a processor chip that is installed beneath the dashboard near the instrument cluster that can essentially superimpose information and graphics at multiple depths up to roughly 425 feet ahead of a vehicle, Envisics founder, Chief Executive and Chief Technology Officer Jamieson Christmas said.

As more auto makers introduce self-driving features into cars, the technology is designed in part to help drivers interact with vehicles that are only partially autonomous.

General Motors plans to implement Envisics technology in its coming electric Cadillac Lyriq SUV, which will have autonomous features, said GM Ventures President Matt Tsien. The ability of drivers to understand how the autonomous system is working could help the driver know when to step in to take over control, Mr. Tsien said.

"Augmented reality displays really help provide some of that interaction between the vehicle and the driver," Mr. Tsien said, adding that the system could highlight pedestrians or road features.

The technology already is installed in some Jaguar Land Rover vehicles, including various Range Rover models.

The Series B investment underscores legacy auto makers' continued appetite for placing bets on startups developing autonomous technology. It comes even as some have struggled amid the coronavirus pandemic and as timelines have been extended broadly for when such technology could become mainstream.

General Motors, for its part, has charted a future course banking heavily on autonomous vehicles. GM and other investors have poured roughly $7 billion into Cruise LLC, a San Francisco-based self-driving startup.

Shanghai-based SAIC, which is one of China's largest auto makers by sales, is planning to incorporate the startup's augmented reality displays in future cars, both in China and abroad, SAIC Capital Investment Director Michael Cohen wrote in a statement announcing the investment.

The deal comes after partially autonomous SAIC trucks that utilize 5G wireless technology were commercially deployed at a Shanghai port this year.

Other auto makers have placed similar bets. Porsche AG, for instance, led an $80 million funding round in 2018 into Swiss startup WayRay AG, which develops holographic augmented-reality technology.

Envisics, which was founded as Two Trees Photonics in 2010, hasn't disclosed the total amount of capital it has raised to date. Investment firm Van Tuyl Cos also participated in the financing.

Envisics will use the new capital to roughly double the company's head count and to open offices in Asia and Europe, Mr. Christmas said.

Write to Marc Vartabedian at marc.vartabedian@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

10-07-20 0914ET

Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
GENERAL MOTORS COMPANY -2.71% 43.84 Delayed Quote.19.78%
HYUNDAI CORPORATION -0.33% 15200 End-of-day quote.-15.08%
HYUNDAI MOBIS CO.,LTD -0.81% 245500 End-of-day quote.-4.10%
HYUNDAI MOTOR COMPANY -0.28% 179000 End-of-day quote.48.55%
PORSCHE AUTOMOBIL HOLDING SE -3.09% 53.3 Delayed Quote.-20.02%
SAIC MOTOR CORPORATION LIMITED -4.70% 24.95 End-of-day quote.4.61%
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Financials (USD)
Sales 2020 121 B - -
Net income 2020 5 499 M - -
Net cash 2020 5 923 M - -
P/E ratio 2020 11,0x
Yield 2020 0,89%
Capitalization 62 749 M 62 749 M -
EV / Sales 2020 0,47x
EV / Sales 2021 0,40x
Nbr of Employees 164 000
Free-Float 92,8%
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Average target price 47,94 $
Last Close Price 43,84 $
Spread / Highest target 64,2%
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Mary Teresa Barra Chairman & Chief Executive Officer
Mark L. Reuss President
John Stapleton Chief Financial Officer
Randall D. Mott Chief Information Officer
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