Cruise Automation taps GM president Dan Ammann as its new CEO

Cruise Automation, the self-driving car subsidiary of GM, is getting a new CEO.

The autonomous vehicle company, which was acquired by GM in 2016 and became subsidiary GM Cruise, has tapped Dan Ammann as CEO. Ammann (shown on the right in the photo above) will step down as GM’s president, a role he’s held since January 2014.

Kyle Vogt, a Cruise co-founder who was CEO and also unofficially handled the chief technology officer position, is staying with the company. Vogt will now become president and CTO. The changes take effect January 1, 2019.

The executive-level shuffling makes sense for Cruise, which has transformed from a small startup with 40 employees to more than 1,000 today at its San Francisco headquarters. And it continues to expand as the company prepares to launch a commercial robotaxi business in 2019.

Cruise recently announced plans to open an office in Seattle and staff it with up to 200 engineers. And with the recent investments by SoftBank and Honda, which has pushed Cruise’s valuation to $14.6 billion, it has the runway to get even bigger. Vogt can focus on the tech and Ammann can build out and manage the business.

Ammann was at the center of GM’s initial investment and acquisition of Cruise. He oversaw GM’s relationship with Cruise. And he’s a person with whom Vogt has regular contact, something he mentioned while onstage at SF Disrupt in September.

Ammann also comes with a specific skill set. When Ammann first joined GM in 2010 as vice president of finance and treasurer, his first task was to manage GM’s initial public offering. This could signal a future move by the company.

“Dan’s been my partner since General Motors’ initial investment in Cruise and I am thrilled he has agreed to join us full-time,” said Vogt. “Dan’s thorough understanding of our mission and his operational expertise make him the perfect fit to lead Cruise into commercial deployment.”

“I’m excited to dedicate 100 percent of my time and energy to helping Kyle and the entire team realize our mission of deploying this technology at scale,” Ammann said in a statement provided to TechCrunch.

GM’s global regions and GM Financial will now report directly to GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra.