Southfield/San Francisco — A car maker like General Motors brings two advantages to the development of self-driving vehicles: knowledge of how to build a car and the factories to do it. Silicon Valley’s biggest entrants into autonomous vehicles, particularly Alphabet, have legions of coders and piles of cash. Now GM and Alphabet have found someone else to handle the aspects of this historic undertaking that they are least adept at doing themselves. Car makers hate risking billions of dollars more than they do already to compete in a low-margin industry, and so SoftBank stepped forward on Thursday to drop $2.25bn into GM’s Cruise Automation unit. That will help finance the roll-out of a driverless ride-hailing business next year. Google’s parent company doesn’t run factories, and so on Thursday the tech giant agreed to buy tens of thousands of minivans made by Fiat Chrysler. The vehicles will be outfitted with autonomous systems designed by Alphabet’s Waymo unit. "They both need to i...

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