SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Cruise LLC, the autonomous-vehicle unit of General Motors Co., has introduced a self-driving, all-electric, ride-sharing shuttle it built in partnership with GM and Honda Motor. The Cruise Origin will be built at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck plant.
The Cruise Origin is a boxy vehicle with no steering wheel or gas pedal. Sliding doors allow enough space that when someone gets in, someone else can get out. It can seat up to six passengers. It is powered by a new, all-electric platform built by GM. The construction is also modular so the technology can be updated as needed.
“By getting rid of all of the stuff, we were left with something simple, something awesome and something all-too missing from life today-space,” Cruise CEO Dan Ammann says. “Space for you and space so other people don't have to sit in your space.”
GM isn't planning to sell the Cruise Origin to individual car buyers. Rather, the Cruise brand will operate a fleet of Origins within a specific city or town. Residents can order a ride on their smartphone, and then an Origin will pick them up and drop them off, similar to an Uber or Lyft ride.
The introduction comes after Cruise delayed in July the launch of its fleet of autonomous Chevrolet Bolt-based Cruise AVs. And it takes place as the auto industry awaits more regulatory guidance and continues to battle concerns with the technology following several crashes involving Teslas being operated on Autopilot by inattentive drivers, and the death of a pedestrian who was hit by one of Uber's self-driving SUVs.
GM and Cruise announced in October 2018 that they joined with Honda to build a new autonomous vehicle, with Honda contributing $2 billion over 12 years to develop purpose-built autonomous vehicles that can be manufactured at high volume for a variety of uses globally.
Meanwhile, there's a gray area surrounding what's legal and what's not when it comes to putting autonomous vehicles on the road. In early January, the Trump administration rolled out a third set of guidelines for self-driving vehicles and tripled down on a voluntary approach that essentially lets carmakers regulate themselves.
In 2016, GM acquired Cruise Automation, a San Francisco-based software company, to speed its development of autonomous vehicle technology.
GM it is committing $2.2 billion to retool its Detroit-Hamtramck plant, which currently makes Chevrolet and Cadillac sedans. GM has invested billions into Detroit-Hamtramck in recent years, touting it as the company's first fully-dedicated electric vehicle assembly plant.
“Through this investment, GM is taking a big step forward in making our vision of an all-electric future a reality,” says GM President Mark Reuss.
Production of the Cruise Origin at Detroit-Hamtramck is expected to begin in 2022.