Cruise CEO Dan Ammann Looks Beyond the Car
Late last year, the former General Motors president wrote a blog post entitled, “We Need To Move Beyond The Car”. The statement wouldn’t be surprising if it came from the head of the Sierra Club or some other environmentally-focused organisation, according to Forbes contributor George Schultze. Instead, it was authored by New Zealander Dan Ammann, CEO of autonomously driven car-maker Cruise.
In the post, Ammann, 47, makes the argument that the human-driven, gasoline-powered, single-occupant car causes pollution, urban congestion, and kills people due to fallible drivers. In addition, he argues that this outmoded form of transportation is also just too expensive. He suggests that the alternative to today’s cars should be ride-sharing in autonomous electric vehicles, such as the ones Cruise is developing.
Certainly, when it comes to all-electric vehicles, Tesla has a first-mover advantage. The same can be said for self-driving technology, though the Tesla autopilot still has some bugs to work out. Cruise, like Tesla, is fully electric, but its vehicles are also truly autonomous. In fact, a Cruise vehicle has neither a steering wheel, nor gas nor brake pedals, and that’s why it’s taking the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) some time to permit their use on public roads.
At one point, Cruise had intimated that it would begin commercial production in 2019, but that goal did not come to fruition. They have, however, increased the number of engineers working on the product, and continue rigorous testing, with safety being the primary goal. The company has taken the position that it wants to make sure its vehicles are completely safe before unleashing them on public motorways.
In the post, Ammann wrote: “At Cruise it is our mission to improve safety by removing the human driver, reduce emissions by being all-electric, and reduce congestion through making shared rides more compelling by providing an awesome experience at a radically lower cost. Only then will we truly move beyond the car to the transportation system that we deserve – one that is safer, more affordable, and better for us, for our cities, and for our planet.”
Ammann ended his blog post with a cryptic, “More to come.” We don’t know what that means yet, but many observers believe that it means Cruise is pretty close to starting commercial production and putting driverless vehicles on the road, Schultze writes. Or, maybe it just means another blog post is coming. Either way, Cruise is a company to keep your eyes on in 2020.
Original article by George Schultze, Forbes, January 9, 2020.