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What is Cruise?

Cruise is an autonomous vehicle company founded in 2013 by Kyle Vogt and Dan Kun. Cruise is a subsidiary of General Motors and employs more than 1,600 people. It has raised $9.25B since inception from investors such as SoftBank, Honda, Microsoft, and T. Rowe Price.

As of February 2020, Cruise had 180 autonomous vehicles registered with California’s DMV, and reportedly plans to deploy up to 300. Since it was acquired by GM, Cruise has tested its technology on the all-electric Chevrolet Bolt. Some of its vehicles have achieved Level 4 autonomy which means they can operate by themselves in most situations, but humans can still manually override the system. In the last five years, Cruise’s vehicles have covered more than two million miles of testing.

Cruise Timeline

  • March 2016: General Motors acquires Cruise for more than $1B as it seeks to ramp up its self-driving car efforts. At the time of purchase Cruise only had 40 employees.
  • April 2017: GM invests $14M into a new research and development facility and announces the company will hire more than 1,100 employees.
  • May 2018: SoftBank’s Vision Fund invests $2.25B to acquire a 19.6% stake, while GM puts in an additional $1.1B.
  • October 2018: Honda announces it will invest $750M in Cruise and commits to an additional $2B over the next 12 years
  • November 2018: Dan Ammann, then President of GM, is named the new CEO of Cruise. Kyle Vogt becomes the CTO and Dan Kun transitions to Chief Product Officer.
  • May 2019: Cruise raises an additional $1.15B from existing investors such as Honda, SoftBank, and GM. It’s now valued at $19B.
  • January 2021: Microsoft participates in a $2B funding round that values Cruise at $30B. (tweet this)

Key figures

Cruise is not currently profitable:

  • In 2020, it posted a loss of $900M.
  • In 2019, it posted a loss of $1B.
  • In 2018, it posted a loss of $728M.

Cruise says the global autonomous vehicle market is worth $8T:

  • Ride-hailing is worth $5T
  • Freight is worth $2T
  • Data insights and in-vehicle experiences are worth $500B each.

Cruise’s progress

Cruise began testing its autonomous vehicles (with a human safety driver) on public roads in Scottsdale, Ariz., and San Francisco in 2017. That same year it launched its “Cruise Anywhere” self-driving ride-share service for employees in San Francisco.

In January 2020, Cruise unveiled the Origin, a vehicle designed for its ride-hailing service. The all-electric vehicle has no steering wheel or pedals. It’s built like a shuttle with doors on both sides and comes with wireless internet and device chargers, along with three interior cameras for safety. Origin is designed to last one million miles of driving.

Cruise received permission in October that year to test fully autonomous vehicles (without a human safety driver) on public roads in California. It was allowed to test five vehicles any time of the day but they could not exceed speed limits of 30 mph or operate during heavy rain or fog.

In December 2020, Cruise began testing its vehicles (without a human safety driver) in San Francisco.

Its biggest rival, Alphabet-owned Waymo, has been testing autonomous vehicles in Phoenix, Ariz., since 2017 and launched a ride-hailing service in the city in October 2020. Despite having pledged to launch its own commercial taxi feature by the end of 2019, Cruise has yet to establish a new release date for the service.

Cruise partnerships and acquisitions

Walmart — In November 2020, Cruise and Walmart announced they would launch a pilot program in Phoenix in 2021 to deliver groceries using Cruise’s self-driving cars. Walmart said partnering with Cruise would help it achieve its goal of reaching zero emissions by 2040, as it is the only self-driving car company with an “entire fleet of all-electric vehicles powered with 100% renewable energy.”

Microsoft — Microsoft and General Motors entered a strategic relationship in January 2021 to expedite the commercialization of autonomous vehicles. Cruise will integrate Microsoft Azure's cloud computing service into its self-driving technology.

Voyage — In March 2021, Cruise acquired self-driving startup Voyage, which serves retirement communities, for an undisclosed price. Voyage operates low-speed self-driving cars to transport older adults, including at least 125,000 customers in Florida. Cruise will reportedly combine its own software and engineering capabilities with Voyage’s market, which, Bloomberg notes, is well suited for driverless taxis.

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About the writer: Jigney Pathak is a Business Researcher at Inside who loves technology, finance, and sports. He has a Bachelor of Business Administration with a finance specialization and has previously worked at Salesforce.