Cruise, the self-driving car subsidiary of General Motors, is facing an existential crisis following a series of public safety failures and regulatory scrutiny. The company is now scrambling to regain trust and avert layoffs, according to leaked audio of an all-hands meeting obtained by Forbes.
In a stark departure from its previous ambitious growth plans, Cruise is now focused on damage control. The company is planning to hire a Chief Safety Officer, bring in a law firm to review its response to the October incident, and create public-facing websites to detail collisions and allow people to share their experiences with Cruise vehicles.
CEO Kyle Vogt acknowledged that the company’s missteps have eroded public trust and caused stress among employees. He promised to provide more details on potential layoffs within the next three weeks.
Cruise’s woes stem from a series of incidents, including the October accident in which a Cruise vehicle dragged a San Francisco pedestrian who had been struck by another car. This incident led to the California DMV revoking Cruise’s operating permit and prompted the company to halt operations nationwide.
The company’s parent, General Motors, has also recalled Cruise’s entire fleet of 950 robotaxis. The recall notice cites the October incident and states that the self-driving system made the “wrong decision” to pull over out of traffic, dragging the pedestrian.
Industry experts say that Cruise’s rapid growth strategy, which prioritized speed over safety, has contributed to its current problems. John Krafcik, the former CEO of Waymo, Cruise’s primary rival, told Forbes that Cruise should have taken a more measured approach to public safety.
Cruise’s next few weeks will be critical in determining its future. The company needs to regain trust, address safety concerns, and make significant changes to its operations. If it fails, it could face a bleak future in an increasingly competitive market.