Cruise, a once-vibrant autonomous vehicle company, is now facing an existential crisis after its license to operate in California was revoked by the DMV, according to Forbes. The company is now struggling to regain the trust of investors, regulators, and the public. In a Monday general meeting, executives revealed that the company is considering internal “listening sessions” and proposed public websites to detail crashes involving Cruise cars or allow people to post comments describing their interactions with the vehicles. CEO Kyle Vogt confirmed that the company will have to make layoffs and that the company is currently working through the details.
The sudden turn of events is a sign that a more considered rollout might have been smarter for Cruise, a General Motors subsidiary, which rushed to scale its operations on an aggressive timeline that appeared to prioritize growth over safety. In October, a Cruise car hit and dragged a San Francisco pedestrian who had been previously hit by another car, which led to the California DMV revoking Cruise’s operating permit in its home state and largest market. This, along with a number of other high-profile setbacks, has led to declining morale among employees and public scrutiny.
The company has outlined plans to address the issue, including hiring a chief security officer who will report directly to the CEO, and engaging an outside engineering firm to investigate the problem. Cruise is also considering inviting third-party security reviewers to review their security strategy and practices. The company has also proposed a new internal strategy focused on “four pillars” to restore trust, with an emphasis on articulating and meeting the expectations of partners, community members, regulators, investors, and road users.
The next few weeks will be critical for Cruise in determining whether and how the company will advance in a developing market with rivals such as Waymo, an Alphabet subsidiary. If successful, the industry as a whole could generate “hundreds of billions of dollars before the end of the decade,” although Cruise has generated minimal revenue over the past four years, resulting in collective losses of around $6 billion.
The company’s executives attempted to convey confidence that the company would recover, despite the challenging time. Cruise seems to be refocusing its efforts on building trust rather than rapidly expanding operations, in the hopes of regaining the confidence of passengers, municipal governments, and its employees.