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UPDATE 1-GM's self-driving car unit Cruise to access $5 bln credit line

(Add Cruise commercialization plan)

BERKELEY, California, June 15 (Reuters) - General Motors Co’s majority owned Cruise self-driving car subsidiary said on Tuesday it would gain access to a multi-year $5 billion line of credit with GM’s finance arm to fund its purchase of Origin vehicles starting in early 2023.

“This bumps up Cruise’s total war chest to over $10 billion as we enter commercialization,” Dan Ammann, chief executive of the Cruise unit, which also counts Softbank and Honda as minority investors, said in a blog posting.

Self-driving startups are racing to build warchests to develop and scale up technology, an expensive and time-consuming process.

This past month, General Motors began assembling the first of about 100 pre-production Cruise Origin all-electric vehicles to be built this summer for validation testing, Cruise said.

Cruise, which has been testing driverless GM Chevy Bolt electric vehicles in San Francisco, plans to commercialize the technology in the densely populated city “in months, not years,” spokesman Ray Wert said.

Reuters last month reported that Cruise and rival Waymo, a unit of Alphabet Inc’s, have applied for permits needed to start charging for autonomous rides and delivery in San Francisco. (Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin; Editing by Edmund Blair and David Gregorio)

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