- General Motors’ troubled Cruise business lost $2.7 billion last year amid a shutdown of all driverless robotaxi operations, the loss of key executives and layoffs affecting nearly a quarter of its workers, GM reported on its Jan. 30 earnings call.
- However, GM CEO Mary Barra told investors that the automaker remains committed to its robotaxi unit. She insisted that Cruise’s “foundational technology is sound,” despite ongoing safety concerns and investigations.
- The GM CEO also said the company will slow investment in Cruise in 2024 to reflect a “more deliberate and cadenced go-to-market strategy.”
Following an accident in San Francisco where one of its vehicles struck a pedestrian and continued to maneuver to the side of the road, dragging the victim who was trapped under the car, Cruise halted all robotaxi operations in October. Both the U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission have opened investigations into the incident, which add to ongoing investigations and inquiries by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the California Public Utilities Commission.
GM and Cruise commissioned a report of the event along with recommendations from trial lawyers Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, which were publicly released last week. Barra told investors that they have “already begun to implement significant changes” and look to regain the trust of regulators and the public.
Barra said the company had “demonstrated and validated externally” that Cruise technology is safer than a human driver. She added, “With that knowledge, we are already working on what the level of the technology needs to be to meet the consumers’ expectations.”
In August of last year, San Francisco officials called for a halt to the expansion of robotaxi services by Cruise and other providers. “We have seen that this technology is not yet ready, and poor [autonomous vehicle] performance has interfered with the life-saving operations of first responders,” San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu said in a statement.
Nevertheless, the General Motors CEO reassured investors about Cruise’s future. “We’re going to make sure we do it right from a regulatory, a consumer, a customer relationship perspective, get the technology where we think it would be,” she said. “And then once we’re informed by doing it well in the cities, then we’ll have the opportunity to go quickly and scale from there.”
“I look forward to sharing our timetable for returning Cruise EVs to the road soon,” Barra said.