GM’s self-driving technology unit Cruise will launch commercial robotic taxi services in Austin, Texas and Phoenix — two hotspots for autonomous vehicle development — “in the next 90 days and before the end of 2022,” said Cruise CEO and co-founder Kyle Vogt Monday,
The services will initially be small-scale, but from the start, the robotaxi services will be driverless, a term that means a human security operator will not be behind the wheel, Vogt said during a speech at Goldman’s Communacopia and Technology Conference. sachs. The operations will scale up next year, he added. The first rides may be free with the intention of starting to charge for the service shortly after.
“In Phoenix, we are building on the partnership we have with Walmart, an investor and partner in Cruise,” said Vogt, referring to Cruise’s delivery pilot with the Arizona retail giant. “And as of a few weeks, actually a few days ago, we’ve got all the permits needed for commercial ride-hail and delivery operations in Phoenix. So that business is really taking off.”
While Cruise has already mapped and driven the streets of Phoenix, the company is coming to Austin with no experience in the city. Cruise has no infrastructure or operations in Austin and has not mapped the city, Vogt said.
Cruise is betting that his work in San Francisco, where it has a robotic taxi service that operates between 10 p.m. and 5:30 a.m. in certain areas of the city, will allow it to expand to new cities more quickly.
Cruise’s decision to launch in Phoenix and Austin this year pushes the company’s geographic scaling schedule six months ahead, said Vogt, noting that it took Cruise just three weeks to get all the necessary permits for the following cities. In contrast, it took the company 33 months to obtain all the permits needed for commercial operations in California, where Cruise has been operating a commercial robotic taxi service in San Francisco since June.
“I think we’ve built a lot of credibility and trust along the way,” Vogt said.
It also puts Cruise in two cities that already have an AV presence. Waymo has been operating in the suburbs of Phoenix for years and has recently expanded into downtown. Argo AI, which is backed by GM rival Ford and VW Group, is in active testing and pilots with commercial partners underway in Austin.
Cruise has claimed it will scale quickly and aggressively across the country, a sentiment Vogt reiterated on Monday. The executive also said Cruise and GM would begin ramping up production of Cruise’s purpose-built AV, the Origin, to supply new markets.
“Looking Bee 2023, next year, stuff to get For real interesting On the grow side,” said Vogt. “there is I go to be thousands from AVs rolling from from the General engines plant, including the first Origin. WI will to be using That until light upwards a lot Lake markets and until get started until to generate meaningful revenue in That markets.”
According to Vogt, Cruise expects to achieve annual sales of $1 billion by 2025. The company closed the second quarter of 2022 with $25 million after launching its commercial service in San Francisco. The company’s expenses increased $550 million from $332 million in the year-ago quarter, and operating expenses nearly doubled to $605 million.
The higher spending is expected to continue as the company builds vehicles and expands into new markets, but Vogt said Cruise has a strategy for keeping costs down as it grows. For example, the company has built robots to charge and clean its AVs, and Cruise has built custom chips that can reduce power consumption and system costs.
While Vogt has consistently said the company’s technology is where it should be for growth into new markets — even markets Cruise hasn’t yet mapped — Cruise recently reported a software recall and update in 80 of its robot axes after a minor crash. in June in which two riders were injured.
In addition to laying out Cruise’s plans to scale up its robotic axi service, Vogt also nodded at the possibility of producing autonomous vehicles for consumers by 2025. He also hinted that we would see Cruise technology appear in “some exciting new ways.”