Partners will jointly develop a next-generation self-driving car, thanks to a serious investment.

Honda will help General Motors and Cruise, its self-driving car unit, fund and engineer a next-generation autonomous vehicle to be sold throughout the world.

Honda will plow roughly US$2 billion ($2.8 billion) into Cruise over the next 12 years, and is also investing US$750 million ($1 billion) upfront for a 5.7 per cent share in the self-driving unit.

The two automakers will work with Cruise to develop a new purpose-built autonomous vehicle (teased above), which can be employed in a large variety of cases and “be manufactured at high volume for global deployment”.

Dan Ammann, GM president, told Automotive News and other news services Cruise’s next-generation car will be “free from the constraints of having to think about vehicle design and having a driver at the wheel, and all the traditional approaches to that”.

“We will complement their strengths through our expertise in space efficiency and design to develop the most desirable and effective shared autonomous vehicle,” Seiji Kuraishi, one of Honda’s vice presidents, said in a prepared statement.

GM and Honda will soon be producing hydrogen fuel cells together, and are also collaborating on next-generation battery technology.

Cruise’s current test fleet is made up of Chevrolet Bolt electric hatchbacks fitted with all the necessary detection hardware. Earlier this year the company unveiled a version of the car with the steering wheel and pedals stripped out.

In a post on Medium Kyle Vogt, Cruise’s CEO, said using the Bolt as its base vehicle to “shave years off our timeline”.

He added the self-driving Bolt is “comfortable, familiar, and will be a great initial introduction to our self-driving future” when it goes into service next year as part of Cruise’s planned ride-hailing service.

Honda is the latest outside investor in GM Cruise, joining the Japanese conglomerate SoftBank, which bought a 19.6 per cent stake in the company in May for US$2.25 billion ($3.1 billion).

GM bought Cruise in 2016 for just US$1 billion ($1.4 billion).