General Motor Cruise is focusing on cutting costs this year. The changes come as investment concerns have sparked in the autonomous vehicle industry this year. Some were forced to shut shop. It is also known that autonomous vehicle companies are burning with their investments.
“We’ll continue to look at the hardware, software – both in terms of component costs as well as the number of components that are on the vehicle – and continue to drive cost out as we move forward,” Cruise’s chief operating officer Gil West said at a technology conference. At Cruise, General Motors burned through nearly $2 billion last year. West did not give details of spending estimates this year.
Fully autonomous vehicles have not rolled out as fast as originally expected due mostly to cumbersome regulations, safety investigations, and arduous technology. Ford Motor Co and Volkswagen AG last fall announced they would shutter their Argo AI self-driving unit and focus on driver-assistance technology that provided more immediate returns. Cruise’s rival and Alphabet Inc’s self-driving technology unit, Waymo, has this year laid off over 8% of its workforce. Cruise, which offers a limited service in San Francisco with a small fleet of Chevrolet Bolt fitted with driverless technology, has accumulated a little over a million driverless miles, West said.
The company is also developing a fully autonomous vehicle called Origin from scratch without a steering wheel and with subway-like doors for rideshare and deliveries. West said Origin was in the final stages of certification and ready for full-scale production, calling it a “big unlock” for the company this year. Most of the barriers to entry, including technological challenges and regulatory clearances, are expected to be resolved in 2023, helping the company expand and grow quickly, West said.
“All that means more rides, more deliveries … and then we start to increase our revenue flywheel,” West said. “This is a really pivotal year for us that will really transform not just Cruise but the whole perception of autonomous vehicles.” In its first major update since announcing Ultra Cruise in late 2021, the automaker outlined several of the sensors that will power the driver-assist system, including cameras, short- and long-range radar, and a lidar sensor. The vehicles will also come with an all-new computer to process the data input from the sensors, which the automaker previously indicated would include Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon Ride Platform. Ultra Cruise will cover “95 percent” of driving scenarios on 2 million miles of roads in the US, the company said.