Two Top Executives Resign from General Motor’s Autonomous Car Unit
The turmoil within General Motors’ (GM.N) Cruise, the company’s self-driving car unit, continues as the co-founder and chief product officer, Daniel Kan, announced his resignation on Monday, just a day after Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt quit.
Kan’s resignation was disclosed in a Slack message seen by Reuters, with no additional details provided by the company or Kan himself. However, in his message to employees, Kan expressed optimism about Cruise’s future, noting that the company had been serving 10,000 rides per week and expressing confidence that it would achieve that milestone again soon.
The new exit comes amid a turbulent period for Cruise, which is currently undergoing a safety review of its U.S. fleet, leading to Vogt’s resignation on Sunday. In a live-streamed meeting on Monday, GM executives, including CEO Mary Barra, did little to alleviate employees’ concerns. According to sources, the company did not address numerous questions surrounding Cruise’s future or a controversial plan to halt a share resale program.
Vogt’s resignation followed increased scrutiny of Cruise’s leadership by GM and its board, following an October accident involving one of Cruise’s self-driving taxis dragging a pedestrian. As a result, Cruise pulled all its vehicles from testing in the United States to conduct a safety review.
The company’s woes come at a time when public trust and cooperation of regulators are crucial for the self-driving car industry. Cruise had recently announced ambitious plans to expand to more cities and offer fully autonomous taxi rides, but these plans may now face setbacks following the leadership changes and safety review.
GM has shuffled leadership at Cruise, appointing general counsel Craig Glidden as a chief administrative officer, bringing in a third-party safety officer, and naming co-presidents.
With the autonomous vehicle regulation still in its early stages and largely overseen state by state, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg stated on Monday that the federal government would use existing regulatory powers to ensure the safe deployment of Cruise and other autonomous vehicles.
In a resignation email, Vogt apologized to staff for the company’s ongoing struggles and took responsibility for the situation. “There are no excuses, and there is no sugar coating what has happened,” he wrote.
The departure of two prominent executives in quick succession raises questions about the future of Cruise and the broader self-driving car industry, as concerns mount over safety and regulatory hurdles.
Greg Bensinger Reporting from San Francisco.