General Motors President to take over Cruise self-driving car unit

GM Cruise Automation

General Motors President Dan Ammann is going to take over as chief executive of the car maker’s majority-owned Cruise self-driving car subsidiary, trading in the No. 2 job at among the world’s largest automakers for a front-row position in the race to render conventional cars obsolete.

Ammann’s move, declared by GM and Cruise on Thursday and effective January 1, underlines the obstacles for legacy automakers as they rival for capital and talent with transport companies born from the digital technology and artificial intelligence industries, such as competitor Waymo, the self-driving car unit of Alphabet Inc, or Tesla Inc.

Cruise co-founder Kyle Vogt, who has been chief executive of the automaker, will become president and chief technology officer, GM and Cruise stated.

“The CEO title is not the most important thing to me or to the mission” of developing safe, self-driving vehicles, Vogt stated.

Cruise has a value of about $14.6 billion – equivalent to about 28 percent of automaker’s market capitalization regardless of no significant revenue and a product not ready for commercial release. Japanese technology investment fund SoftBank Group and Japanese automaker Honda Motor spent a total of $5 billion for separate minority stakes in Cruise.

Ammann joined GM in 2010 from Morgan Stanley, where he worked as an adviser to GM’s government-led bankruptcy restructuring in 2009. He was GM’s president by 2014 and headed a wide-ranging restructuring of worldwide operations that consisted the sale of GM’s European Opel unit, an overhaul of the money-losing GM Korea business and, in 2016, the purchase of Cruise.

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