Self-driving company Cruise on track for early commercial operations in 2022

General Motors CEO Mary Barra is “pretty confident” that the driver will be out of Cruise vehicles by 2022, as the company looks to enter early commercial operations for autonomous robotaxi and delivery services.

Her comments reiterate a timeline outlined earlier this month by Cruise CEO Dan Ammann at the automaker’s investor day. The guidance from Barra, made during an earnings call with investors Wednesday, comes as several autonomous vehicle companies prepare to launch commercial services or expand existing ones.

One key to Cruise’s success relative to other autonomous vehicle developers is its vertical integration with GM, one of the largest car manufacturers in North America.

“[Cruise’s] vertical integration with GM is the key differentiator,” she said. “That seamless integration of the technology, along with leveraging Ultium, as well as our manufacturing capability are a huge value.”

Earlier this month, Cruise received its “driverless deployment permit” from the California Department of Motor Vehicles, a key approval to start accepting compensation for driverless rides. Only one more permit remains, from the California Public Utilities Commission, until the company can launch its commercial robotaxi service in San Francisco.

“As we speak, Cruise is just one state-level approval away from full regulatory approval to charge customers for rides in San Francisco, and it is still the only company with a permit to provide full driverless ride-hail service in the city,” Barra said.

Her comments were made as part of the automotive giant’s second-quarter earnings call. GM announced revenues of $26.8 billion, a 25% fall from $35.5 billion in the same quarter in 2020. The decline was largely due to the ongoing shortage of semiconductors, which have halted production and decreased dealer inventory.

GM also reported a net income of $2.4 billion in the third quarter, down from a year-ago third-quarter earnings of $4.1 billion.

“The quarter was challenging due to continuing semiconductor pressures,” Barra said in a letter to shareholders.

However, despite the weak earnings, GM executives remained bullish on the year’s outlook overall, telling investors that full-year earnings would be at the high end of its adjusted guidance of $11.5 billion and $13.5 billion.