Former Ford Executive Takes the Wheel at GM’s Cruise Former Ford Executive Takes the Wheel at GM’s Cruise

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By Ronald Tech

Cruise's Autonomous Vehicle

General Motors Co.’s GM
autonomous vehicle subsidiary, Cruise, has appointed former Ford Motor Co. executiveSteve Kenner as its new Chief Safety Officer. The move aims to reinforce its commitment to safety and accountability.

Kenner’s Appointment: Cruise announced the appointment of Kenner in a LinkedIn post, stressing the critical importance of safety in the autonomous vehicle (AV) industry and the need for enhanced focus on safety, transparency, and accountability.

In his new role, Kenner will oversee Cruise’s safety management systems and operations, and will report directly to company PresidentCraig Glidden.

Kenner brings extensive experience to his role, having worked at Uber, Apple, Chrysler, and Ford. Before joining Cruise, he served as the Vice President of Safety at Kodiak Robotics. Notably, Kenner began his career as an engineer at General Motors in 1978.

Kenner’s Vision: Reflecting on his appointment, Kenner expressed his commitment to advancing the safety potential of autonomous vehicles, stating, “AV companies and our regulators share the same goal: to improve road safety for all users. I believe in the safety potential of autonomous vehicles, and I want to safely and responsibly realize that potential.”

Significance of the Appointment: Cruise has faced safety concerns following an accident involving one of its autonomous vehicles in San Francisco in early October, leading to the suspension of both autonomous and manual AV operations in the United States.

GM reported an operating loss of $3.48 billion at Cruise in 2023, compared to a loss of $3.24 billion in 2022. Despite these challenges, GM CEOMary Barra emphasized the company’s commitment to Cruise, highlighting the sound foundational technology behind its self-driving capabilities.

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During the full-year earnings call last month, Barra indicated that while Cruise’s spending would be significantly reduced this year, investments would continue in developing self-driving software, specialized hardware, and other AI capabilities. When questioned about potential fundraising for Cruise’s relaunch, Barra stated, “As we get the detailed plan of how we’re going to relaunch Cruise in the roadmap, then we’ll evaluate the overall funding needs and will determine if it is internally or externally sourced.”

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