General Motors has two media magnets in CEO Mary Barra and Cruise Automation founder Kyle Vogt. Barra is praised for boosting GM profitability while streamlining operations and making strategic investments. Vogt, the beneficiary of one of those investments – in his autonomous vehicle technology company – embodies GM’s aspirations for tech leadership even as he burns cash at upwards of $200M/quarter.
GM has used this one-two punch to boost its stock in the context of an inchoate melodrama pitting GM/Cruise against Waymo in the battle for autonomous vehicle market leadership. Both companies make claims about delivering commercial (driverless) autonomous vehicle services some time in 2019 and each claims to have the advantage over the other.
The Waymo vs. Cruise story plays well in the popular press but is severely misleading. There are literally dozens of organizations around the world working on perfecting autonomous vehicle technology (just ask my colleague, Angelos Lakrintis) and there may be as many as a dozen already offering commercial autonomous vehicle solutions.