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General Motors President Dan Ammann to Become CEO of Cruise Automation

General Motors President Dan Ammann to Become CEO of Cruise Automation

Author: Eric Walz   

The President of General Motors Dan Ammann, is taking the reins as CEO of Cruise Automation, a San Francisco-based self-driving car startup that GM bought for over $1 billion in 2016.

Cruise Automation has been working closely with GM since its acquisition, developing self-driving technology for a rumored robotaxi service GM plans to launch in 2019 using a fleet of self-driving Chevy Bolt EVs. Cruise operates its driverless test cars in San Francisco, Arizona and the Detroit area.

The executive shuffle was described as the "next step" in commercializing Cruise's self-driving technology. Ammann and other Cruise executives have said previously that the company plans to deploy a paid taxi service next year, potentially in partnership with a ride-hailing providers Uber or Lyft.

"I'm excited to dedicate 100 percent of my time and energy to helping Kyle and the entire team realize our mission of deploying this technology at scale," said Ammann in a press release.

The company's co-founder and current CEO, Kyle Vogt, will be taking on the roles of CTO and President. Dan Kan, Cruise's current COO, will remain in his role. The executive changes are effective Jan. 1, 2019.

The change of roles for Ammann, who has served as GM's President since 2014 and was instrumental in the acquisition of Cruise, a move to help jumpstart GM's self-driving technology.

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Dan Ammann, right, with the co-founders of Cruise Kyle Vogt, center, and Daniel Kan

The news of Ammann's new role as CEO of Cruise follows GM's surprising announcement this week that it will close several assembly plants and eliminate 14,000 workers in an effort to cut costs. The 14,000 employees represent around 15 percent of GM's workforce.

GM said will focus its attention on introducing new electric models and move away from building sedans, as consumer preferences shift toward buying smaller SUVs and trucks.

In a Nov. 26 press release, GM said it would double the resources allocated to "electric and autonomous vehicle programs." Ammann's new role as Cruise's CEO will likely be a part of those efforts.

Just two weeks ago, Cruise announced it would open a new office near Seattle. The company said its Seattle office could employ as many as 200 autonomous driving engineers by next year.

In June, Bloomberg reported that General Motors was having early discussions both internally and with banks about various strategic options for Cruise, including a possible IPO. Before a decision is made, GM first wants to position the business for commercial success.

Eric Walz
Eric Walz
Originally from New Jersey, Eric is an automotive and technology reporter specializing in the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley. Eric has over fifteen years of automotive experience and a B.A. in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the automotive industry and beyond. He has worked on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology. Outside of work, Eric likes to travel to new places, play guitar, and explore the outdoors.
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