September 18, 2022
General Motors’ autonomous vehicle technology unit, Cruise, is set to launch its commercial robotaxi service in Austin and Phoenix before the end of 2022. Cruise’s robotaxi service already operates in San Francisco between 10:00 PM and 5:30 AM. GM is hoping that its West Coast experience will help it expand into more urban centers across the country. Austin and Phoenix are hot spots for autonomous vehicle development. It took Cruise only three weeks to get all the necessary permits to launch, compared to 33 months for San Francisco.
Kyle Vogt, Cruise’s CEO and co-founder, is aiming to generate $1 billion in revenue by 2025. The Austin and Phoenix operations will initially be small “revenue generating” endeavours with the intention of scaling up in 2023. Amidst this planned growth is a generally pessimistic market of investors who have been skeptical of large scale, publicly accessible autonomous taxi systems. However, Vogt thinks the public will become bullish about autonomous vehicles once they experience them: “I think people are going to be caught off guard by how quickly AVs (autonomous vehicles) go from the first ride that you've taken to available pretty much everywhere.”
Cruise closed its second quarter of 2022 with $25 million in revenue while its expenses increased to $550 million from $332 million in Q2 of 2021. Plans to keep expenses down are already in motion; the company is developing robots to clean and charge cars. Cruise is also developing custom chips that can allegedly reduce power consumption and system costs.
Tommy Friedlich, 2022 Articling Student-at-Law