Cruise CEO Resigns as Challenges Continue
The CEO of Cruise, the autonomous driving unit of General Motors, has announced his resignation. In a series of posts on Twitter, Kyle Vogt revealed that he would be leaving the company he co-founded in 2013. Vogt highlighted Cruise’s achievement of providing over 250,000 driverless rides since its inception. Going forward, he plans to spend more time with his family and explore new ideas.
The decision comes after a tumultuous period for Cruise, marred by a tragic incident involving one of its robotaxis. In San Francisco, a self-driving Chevrolet Bolt EV struck a woman who had already been hit by another vehicle. The autonomous vehicle ended up on top of her, necessitating the use of the jaws of life to extricate her. Following the incident, Cruise’s driverless permits were suspended by the California Department of Motor Vehicles, leading to a halt in the company’s activities across the United States. General Motors later announced layoffs within its self-driving unit.
These recent challenges faced by Cruise underscore the fact that truly self-driving cars, free of problems, are still a distant goal despite significant investments in the field. Bryan Reimer, a research scientist at the MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics, has even expressed doubts about the existence of Level 5 autonomy. However, considerable progress has been made, not just by Tesla’s Autopilot, but also by BMW and Mercedes. Both automakers have obtained Level 3 certification for their flagship models, the 7 Series and S-Class.
BMW Sets Sights on Electric Revolution
Meanwhile, BMW is envisioning a significant shift towards electric vehicles. The German luxury automaker anticipates that its i5 electric model will account for 50 percent of all 5 Series sales in Europe. This projection encompasses the entire lifespan of the eighth generation of the sedan, not just the immediate future. Globally, the zero-emission i5 is expected to make up 30 percent of total deliveries.
The latest 5 Series is available with various powertrain options, including gasoline, diesel, plug-in hybrid, and electric variants, depending on the region. In 2024, BMW plans to expand the lineup by introducing a wagon version with the same propulsion options. In China, BMW manufactures a long-wheelbase sedan and offers it with both internal combustion engines and the i5 electric model.
Unlike Mercedes, which has developed a dedicated electric car platform for its EQE model, BMW has chosen to use the same platform as the 5 Series for the i5. However, the automaker will introduce a dedicated platform in 2025 with the launch of its first electric vehicles on the Neue Klasse architecture. This sixth-generation platform will feature round cells to enhance battery range and charging speed by 30 percent.
As the automotive industry continues to evolve, Cruise’s leadership change and BMW’s electric ambitions demonstrate the ongoing pursuit of innovation and progress within the sector. Despite challenges and setbacks, the industry remains committed to advancing self-driving technology and electrification to shape the future of transportation.