GM President Dan Ammann is taking over as CEO of the Cruise self-driving division as the company pushes toward a commercial launch in 2019 (GM)

Dan Ammann (R), President of General Motors speaks during the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen, Colorado, U.S. in this handout photo released to Reuters July 11, 2016. Stuart Isett/Fortune Brainstorm TECH/Handout via Reuters

  • General Motors President Dan Ammann will take over as CEO of Cruise, the carmaker’s self-driving division that’s now valued at $14.6 billion.
  • Current CEO Kyle Vogt will become president and CTO, concentrating on leading „technology development“ as the division pushes toward a commercial rollout in 2019.
  • Ammann’s role at GM had previously been adjusted so that he could spend more time on Cruise.

General Motors announced on Thursday that President Dan Ammann would assume the role of CEO at the company’s Cruise self-driving vehicle division.

Cruise’s current CEO, Kyle Vogt, will become president and CTO. The changes will be official on January 1, 2019.

Ammann’s involvement with Cruise had been expanded earlier this year as GM shuffled responsibilities, shaking up the leadership of its Cadillac brand and putting executive vice president Mark Reuss in charge of the luxury division as well as product planning and development for the largest US automaker.

„I’m excited to dedicate 100% of my time and energy to helping Kyle and the entire team realize our mission of deploying this technology at scale,“ Ammann said in a statement.

Vogt added: „Dan’s been my partner since General Motors‘ initial investment in Cruise and I am thrilled he has agreed to join us full-time. Dan’s thorough understanding of our mission and his operational expertise make him the perfect fit to lead Cruise into commercial deployment.“

Read more: GM’s $2 billion deal with a Japanese tech giant may give the automaker a big advantage in the race to develop self-driving cars

Cruise is now worth $14.6 billion

Cruise Automation

GM acquired San Francisco-based Cruise in 2016, for an all-in price of around $1 billion, accounting for future hiring and expansion costs (the initial price was $581 million). Subsequent investments from the SoftBank Vision Fund and Honda have increased Cruise’s valuation to $14.6 billion.

Cruise’s focus since 2016 has been to develop a fully autonomous technology that can be deployed as a ride-sharing platform in a geographically defined urban context. Beyond testing in the Bay Area, Cruise has also been prototyping its systems in Arizona and Michigan.

Cruise tech relies on laser-radar units and integrated software and computer processing power, currently being installed in all-electric Chevy Bolt vehicles at the assembly stage. GM and Cruise believe this will provide the division with the reliable scale needed to put on the road thousands of self-driving vehicles that could be hailed using a smartphone app.

In 2017, Cruise acquired Pasadena-based Strobe, Inc., which manufactures smaller, lower-cost lidar units. 

Pushing toward commercialization in 2019

GM Cruise Automation Chevy Bolt

Commercialization is now Cruise’s top priority. Media reports have suggested that Cruise could be lagging on GM’s 2019 launch timetable, but the carmaker maintains that the schedule hasn’t changed.

„As we move toward commercial deployment, adding Dan to the strong team led by Kyle is the next step,“ GM CEO Mary Barra said in a statement.

Ammann, a former investment banker who previously served as GM’s CFO, has led the automaker’s efforts to create new businesses that could ensure its prosperity in a world of rapidly changing mobility choices. He has also assisted Barra in streamlining the global giant’s operations, including the sale of the perennially underperforming Opel/Vauxhall division in Europe to Peugeot.

Under Vogt, Cruise has grown from a 40-person startup to employing 1,000 people in San Francisco, with as many as 300 new hires planned for a satellite office in Seattle.

„We’ve got another huge leg of growth to go,“ Ammann told Business Insider in July.

Ammann’s role as president of GM won’t be filled. Instead, several of his prior areas, including GM Financial, will now report directly to Barra.

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Source: Business insider

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