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GM’s Cruise slashes contractor roles after driverless car suspension

Kyle Vogt, chief executive office and chief technology officer of Cruise Automation Inc., during the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, Texas, US, on Tuesday, March 14, 2023. 

Jordan Vonderhaar | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Cruise announced a round of layoffs Thursday affecting contract workers who worked on its driverless ridehailing service, CNBC has learned. The cuts included those who help with cleaning vehicles, fleet charging and fielding customer support inquiries.

The company declined to share a specific number.

“Cruise has made the difficult decision to reduce a portion of the contingent workforce that supported driverless ridehail operations,” a company spokesperson told CNBC in a statement. “These contingent workers were responsible for work such as cleaning, charging and maintaining the fleet, and we’re grateful for their contributions.” 

Cruise told CNBC that the layoffs are reflective of its current supervised driving operations, adding that the company plans to resume driverless service but that it does not have a specific timeline to share.

The news follows a barrage of safety concerns and incidents since Cruise, owned by General Motors, received approval in August for round-the-clock robotaxi service in San Francisco. This week, Cruise announced it would recall 950 robotaxis after a pedestrian collision. In October, the California Department of Motor Vehicles on Tuesday suspended Cruise’s deployment and testing permits for its autonomous vehicles, effective immediately.

“When there is an unreasonable risk to public safety, the DMV can immediately suspend or revoke permits,” the California DMV said in a statement.

In GM’s third-quarter earnings update, the company said it had lost roughly $1.9 billion on Cruise through September of this year.

The DMV suspension came a week after federal auto safety regulators announced they were investigating Cruise following pedestrian injuries. The probe, spearheaded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, was prompted by multiple reports involving pedestrian injuries and Cruise vehicles in recent months, and it concerns an estimated 594 self-driving Cruise vehicles, according to the filing.

What it's really like to ride in Cruise and Waymo robotaxis on San Francisco streets

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