Maven’s Hossein Hassani says self-driving cars are “much closer than we think” at #TechTO

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Self-driving vehicles are coming to Canada sooner than people realize, according to Hossein Hassani, managing director at Cadillac and head of GM’s urban mobility service Maven.

At the latest TechToronto, Hassani talked about the arrival of self-driving cars, urban mobility, and the various ways GM is exploring this space.

Hassani kicked off his presentation by quoting GM CEO Mary Barra, who said GM’s goal is to “disrupt ourselves and own the customer relationship beyond the car.” Hassani said the first proof of that “self-disruption” is through Maven, the car-sharing service that spun-off from GM last year.

“Maven is about a year old…and is meant to be our mobility-as-a-service brand,” said Hassani. “Maven is really going in a rather different direction, and what Maven is doing is really enabled by decisions we made 20 years ago in investing in platforms like OnStar.”

“Maven is really going in a rather different direction and what Maven is doing is really enabled by decisions we made 20 years ago.”

To paint a clearer picture of “mobility-as-a-service” or “urban mobility,” Hassani noted that urban mobility comes down to “all forms of movement from [Point] A to [Point] B in a city.” He said that the forms of urban mobility GM is currently investing in include electric bikes, ride-sharing services, vehicle sharing services, and owned cars.

In his presentation, Hassani also stressed that GM is particularly interested in innovative transit solutions in major cities, especially as the automotive industry works towards introducing technologies like self-driving vehicles.

“What’s happening next, particularly in a progressive government…you know a real focus on transit solutions in major cities, innovation in public-private partnerships, most importantly, which is a real interest for us, particularly when you’re dealing with an industry like automotive that is so regulated, like putting a car on the road without a person behind it is kind of a big deal,” said Hassani.

When it comes to how GM views the future in relation to mobility, Hassani said the company is focused on four major elements: connected, shared, electric, and autonomous services — autonomous vehicles being something he believes are “much closer than any of us think.”

“Right now, we’ve got plays in each of these areas,” said Hassani. “The connected car enabled by OnStar, share enabled by some of the maven services but also our equity investment in Lyft, the electric car in the Bolt EV…and the autonomous [through] our recent acquisition of Cruise Automation, which has already deployed self-driving vehicles in a couple cities in the US.”

Watch the full presentation below:

The next TechTO takes place on July 10. Get your tickets now!

Amira Zubairi

Amira Zubairi

Amira Zubairi is a staff writer at BetaKit. As a fourth-year journalism student who has written primarily about entrepreneurship, Amira has developed a growing interest in Canadian startup, business, and tech news. In her free time, Amira enjoys reading, baking and watching legal shows.