Cruise Loses Another Top Executive Amid Robotaxi Crisis

Cruise, the self-driving car subsidiary of General Motors, has faced another setback as its senior vice president for autonomous vehicle platforms, Carl Jenkins, announced his resignation on Thursday. Jenkins was in charge of hardware development for Cruise’s robotaxi fleet, which has been suspended since October after a fatal accident involving one of its vehicles.

Jenkins Leaves Cruise After Six Years of Service

Jenkins joined Cruise in 2018 as the head of hardware engineering, after working at Tesla and Apple. He was promoted to senior vice president for autonomous vehicle platforms in 2020, overseeing the design, development, and integration of hardware components for Cruise’s self-driving cars. He also led the collaboration with General Motors, which acquired Cruise in 2016, to leverage the automaker’s manufacturing capabilities and supply chain.


Jenkins announced his departure on LinkedIn, without giving any reason or revealing his future plans. He thanked his colleagues and praised Cruise’s achievements, saying that the company had given over 250,000 driverless rides across several cities and inspired people with a vision of the future. He also expressed his confidence in Cruise’s leadership and team, saying that they were executing on a solid roadmap and product vision.

Cruise Faces Leadership Crisis and Regulatory Scrutiny

Jenkins’ exit is the latest in a series of leadership changes at Cruise, which has been struggling to recover from a tragic incident that occurred in October 2020. A Cruise robotaxi hit and dragged a pedestrian for 20 feet in San Francisco, after the pedestrian was first struck by another car that fled the scene. The pedestrian died from her injuries, and Cruise was accused of withholding key information and video footage from the authorities. The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) suspended Cruise’s permits for autonomous vehicle deployment and driverless testing, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched an investigation into the accident.

Since then, Cruise has lost several key executives, including its co-founder and CEO Kyle Vogt, who resigned in November 2020, and its co-founder and president Dan Kan, who also stepped down in the same month. In December 2020, Cruise fired nine senior managers, including its head of safety, head of software engineering, and head of perception. Cruise has hired Steve Kenner, a former Apple and Ford executive, as its new safety chief, and has appointed Mo Elshenawy and Robert Grant as its co-presidents.

Cruise Plans to Resume Operations with Scaled-Down Approach

Cruise has paused all of its driverless operations in the US, affecting about 70 vehicles in six cities. The company has said that it is working to improve its safety, transparency, and community engagement, and to return to the road as soon as possible. Cruise has also said that it is focusing on its core mission of developing a fully autonomous, electric, and shared transportation service, and that it is not interested in pursuing other applications of its technology, such as delivery or logistics.

Cruise has also revised its plans for launching a commercial robotaxi service, which it had originally aimed to do by the end of 2020. The company has said that it will start with a smaller and more controlled pilot program, in which it will invite select customers and partners to use its service, and collect feedback and data to improve its performance and reliability. Cruise has not given a specific timeline for this pilot program, but has said that it will be ready when it meets its safety and quality standards.

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