GM's robotaxi service will expand to two more cities, and that's just the beginning.
General Motors' robotaxi division, Cruise, has big plans for 2023 as it gears up to enter additional markets and increase operations by adding thousands of self-driving vehicles to its fleets. The news comes from Reuters, which spoke with Cruise COO Gil West.
"You'll likely see us expand the number of markets in a large number next year," he said. Cruise is currently operating in San Francisco, Austin, and Phoenix with heavily modified examples of the Chevy Bolt EV. West added that more US cities would soon begin to utilize the "repeatable playbook" developed in those locations mentioned above. A list of future cities was not provided.
But perhaps the even bigger news for Cruise is that 2023 will see the Origin self-driving human transport vehicle launch.
For several months, the division has tested human-operated versions of the Origin in San Francisco. Volume production is due to get underway next year. The launch of Origin vehicles also brings another profitable opportunity: delivery services.
Cruise is already operating a special prototype Origin vehicle that features storage lockers for deliverable items, which are currently offered for sale on the company's website. Walmart has already invested in Cruise for this reason, and testing is already underway at eight Phoenix-area locations.
West added that delivery has "the potential to be a big part of the business." Some may still doubt the long-term profitability of a robotaxi division like Cruise, especially after Ford and Volkswagen shut down their joint automated vehicle division, Argo AI. Still, GM CEO Mary Barra believes the opposite.
Speaking to investors in early November, Barra said GM would continue to spend $500 million a quarter on Cruise (despite recent losses), which amounts to $2 billion annually on expanding Cruise. Why? Because America's largest automaker firmly believes it can generate revenue of $50 billion annually by 2030. But just because Ford and VW opted out of the business, that doesn't mean there isn't competition.
Ride-hailing platforms like Uber and Lyft are also considered rivals, but they still rely on human drivers behind the wheel. 2023 will undoubtedly be a vital year for Cruise in numerous ways, and we expect GM to have official announcements in the coming months.