The CEO of General Motors’ Cruise, Kyle Vogt, has stepped down from his position as the robotaxi unit strives to regain its footing following concerns about safety. Vogt, who co-founded the company and oversaw its acquisition by GM in 2016, made the announcement in a post on X website late Sunday. This decision comes in the aftermath of an accident that took place in early October, resulting in the suspension of Cruise’s license to operate self-driving taxis in California.
In the incident, a victim of a hit-and-run ended up underneath a Cruise taxi and the vehicle failed to respond as effectively as a human driver would have, according to reports. As a consequence, Cruise halted all operations and temporarily suspended its robotaxis with safety drivers on board to dedicate time to “engage third-party experts and strengthen public trust.”
Cruise has recently taken additional measures to bolster safety. These include the appointment of an independent expert to conduct a thorough safety assessment and the involvement of an engineering firm to investigate the cause of the accident.
The news of Vogt’s departure did not significantly impact GM stock, which experienced a 0.1% decrease in premarket trading, while futures for the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average remained unchanged.
GM Stock Faces Challenges Amidst Departure and Market Conditions
GM stock has been facing a challenging year, with a decrease of about 17% year to date and a 29% drop over the past 12 months. This decline can be attributed to several factors, including rising interest rates, a slowing economy, and weakening growth in electric vehicle sales. With these factors weighing on investor sentiment, the value of GM stock for its robotaxi business is not particularly enticing, as shares only trade for about 4.2 times the estimated 2024 earnings.
In comparison, Ford Motor (F) stock trades at about 5.9 times and does not have a comparable operation to Cruise, further highlighting the struggles faced by GM. The departure of Kyle Vogt, CEO and co-founder of Cruise, adds to these setbacks. GM had high hopes for Cruise, believing it could generate $50 billion in annual sales by 2030. However, Vogt’s departure leaves GM without the key leadership needed to achieve this goal.
To address this challenge, Cruise has announced leadership changes. Mo Elshenawy, the current Executive Vice President of Engineering at Cruise, will serve as President and CTO. Craig Glidden will also serve as President and continue as Chief Administrative Officer for Cruise. These changes aim to keep Cruise on track and lead the company towards a successful future. Vogt expressed his confidence in Cruise’s potential, stating that the team at Cruise is brilliant, driven, and resilient.
Despite these obstacles, GM remains committed to the success of Cruise. As the company moves forward without its CEO and co-founder, it will need to navigate through the ever-changing market conditions and find new ways to propel its robotaxi business forward.