By on November 29, 2018

Even though GM is no longer serious about the Cruze, it appears to be very serious about Cruise. For those with short memories, Cruise Automation is The General’s unit that focuses on autonomous cars.

News has broken that current GM president Dan Ammann will take over as CEO of Cruise, pushing aside current CEO and co-founder Kyle Vogt, who’s booted down the ladder to Chief Technology Officer. All this is expected to take place on January 1st, 2019.

Some outlets are reporting that Vogt was having a hard time meeting targets, but hard proof of that assertion remains scarce on the ground. For now, all hands are spouting positive PR sound bites. General Motors CEO Mary Barra has said in the past that Cruise is the key to its future.

“As we move toward commercial deployment, adding Dan to the strong team led by Kyle is the next step,” Barra said in a statement. Ammann had previously worked closely with Vogt and Cruise in his GM role.

Cruise has been testing a fleet of self-driving Chevy Bolts and has become a chief rival to Alphabet’s Waymo in the race to introduce widespread autonomous tech. Waymo plans to launch its robo-taxi service in Phoenix before year’s end. In the time since GM bought Cruise in a deal worth about $1 billion, Cruise has attracted investment from SoftBank and Honda, with whom it’s sharing a self-driving vehicle development project. Autonomous driving makes for strange bedfellows.

GM touts the value of Cruise at $14.6 billion. When it bought the place, it had about 40 employees on the payroll. Today, that number stretches to more than 1000. Plans are afoot to create 200 more jobs in the Seattle region. Talking heads are speculating GM will eventually spin off Cruise.

This management shakeup also means that GM’s global regions and GM Financial will report directly to Barra now instead of Ammann. As GM president, Ammann spearheaded the 2016 Cruise acquisition and, among his other global responsibilities, oversaw GM’s relationship with Cruise. He is deeply familiar with Cruise’s business and technology and its team. If reports of targets not being met are true, this move puts Ammann a lot closer to the action where he can keep an eye on things.

[Image: Cruise]

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10 Comments on “Dan Ammann, Cruising Man; GM Prez Sent to Autonomous Group...”

  • avatar

    “Kyle Vogt, who’s booted down the ladder to Chief Technology Officer.”
    Guess this means he’ll be leaving soon to “pursue other interests”, or to “spend more time with his family”.

    • 0 avatar

      Well, he’s certainly been demoted.

      “Ammann had previously worked closely with Vogt and Cruise in his GM role.” In other words, Cruise reported to him, as did “GM’s global regions and GM Financial”. So, now he only has Cruise to run.

      An interesting question (to which I do not have any inkling of the answer) is how the personal/professional chemistry between Ammann and Barra played out. If he’s accepting this move, it may be that he feels relieved to have less attention from Barra, and/or it may also bee true that Barra wanted to remove an intermediary between her and GM’s principal operating groups.

      And hey, it’s not like GM has been setting the world on fire, so it may also be a move by Barra to relieve pressure from the Board by having her take more direct responsibility for leading operations (“yes, I know results haven’t been what we wanted, but I’m rolling up my sleeves and taking personal charge of things”). Sometimes that works, at least for a little while…

  • avatar

    a very large oceanic bird related to the shearwaters, with long narrow wings. Albatrosses, some species of which have wingspans greater than 10 feet, are found mainly in the southern oceans, with three kinds in the North Pacific.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    This is a promotion? Because it sounds a lot like being sent to the Eastern Front in WWII.

    I’m fascinated by the “all eggs in one basket” approach being taken by GM (self-driving), FCA (Jeep), Ford (SUVs), and even Elio and of course the all-EV companies (Tesla, that dud Faraday Future, and now Rivian).

    Perhaps the days of one-brand-fits-all are over?

    • 0 avatar

      I also find this interesting. “As GM president, Ammann spearheaded the 2016 Cruise acquisition and, among his other global responsibilities, oversaw GM’s relationship with Cruise.”

      To me, it sounds like, “This was YOUR idea. Sink or swim with it.”

  • avatar

    Jeans and blazers for everyone!

  • avatar

    Dan “The Man” Ammann?

  • avatar

    GM’s got the pedal to the metal to shoving crap down our throats that we don’t want. At least Ford and FCA are focusing on what we want to buy.

  • avatar

    Just read what the auto extremist said about this phantom technology. It is just the latest fade to appease stock holders. GM is wasting vast resources on this technology, which could be better spent to improve quality in other areas.

  • avatar
    FWD Donuts

    Interesting move. Ammann gets a division to run — and no doubt has a big slug of shares to cash in if the company has a significant liquidity event — such as getting bought out or taken public.

    As for Vogt, while his title may have changed — this isn’t necessarily a negative. No, he’s not CEO — but Ammann has deeper, established relationships with the parent company’s senior management — and will no doubt be able to communicate better and get more things done. Vogt has a technical background — and can be happier by focusing his efforts on what he does best.

    That said, I think we’re more like decades than years to seeing anything major in this space being commercially viable.

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