GM's Cruise Driverless-Car Unit Picks Up Former Delta Operations Chief -- Update
By Mike Colias
General Motors Co.'s driverless-car division, Cruise, has hired
a former Delta Air Lines Inc. executive to serve as its operations
chief, a sign the company is moving closer to offering services to
Gil West, who retired in September after 12 years at Delta, has
joined Cruise as chief operating officer, Cruise said Friday. Mr.
West was highly regarded at Delta, where he oversaw the company's
rise from a reliability laggard to the top ranks.
The hire signals that Cruise, which has been refining and
testing its autonomous technology on the streets of San Francisco
for years, is readying its operations to roll out a commercial
Mr. West's position is a new role at Cruise, which has spent its
seven years as a research-and-development company. The executive
will oversee all aspects of the company's future autonomous
ride-hailing network, from fleet management to customer service, a
Cruise missed its goal of launching a driverless ride-hailing
service in 2019 and hasn't set a new target date.
Dan Ammann, Cruise's chief executive, in a statement lauded Mr.
West's track record in safety and customer service at Delta, and
said he joins the company "as we begin the journey to commercialize
our self-driving technology."
Separately, GM on Friday revealed a new corporate logo and
related advertising campaign aimed at showcasing its coming slate
of new electric-vehicle models. Global marketing chief Deborah Wahl
said the goal is to broaden the appeal of plug-in cars to more
The logo, which features "GM" in lowercase letters and a more
contemporary font, is the first major change since the 1960s.
The autonomous-vehicle industry has gone through a relatively
quiet period as companies grapple with the technical challenges
inherent in developing robot cars that exceed human driving
Cruise and others pushed back their timelines to deploy
driverless rides to the public by a year or more. There was a
relative dearth of investment in the space last year, as investors
flocked to electric-vehicle startups.
Still, a recent string of deals and technical milestones in
recent months has led some analysts to predict that the
driverless-car space will heat up in 2021.
Waymo LLC, a unit of Google parent Alphabet Inc. that is seen as
furthest along in refining driverless technology, recently began
offering rides without safety engineers to customers in suburban
Phoenix. The company also raised at least $3 billion last year.
In June, Amazon.com Inc. acquired autonomous-vehicle developer
Zoox. Last month, Uber Technologies Inc. sold its driverless-car
unit to Aurora Innovation Inc.
Cruise, which is backed by Japan's SoftBank Group Corp. and
Honda Motor Co., last month began testing autonomous cars on public
roads in San Francisco without anyone at the wheel. Cruise
executives have indicated they intend to build out the company's
own ride-hailing network once the technology is ready for
Mr. West led the team that transformed Delta's operations over
the past decade, Delta Chief Executive Ed Bastian said in an
employee memo announcing Mr. West's retirement last year. Delta has
been the top-rated airline for operational performance in The Wall
Street Journal's Middle Seat Scorecard ranking for three
This is GM's second recent high-profile hire from Delta. This
fall the company hired Delta's former finance chief, Paul Jacobson,
to serve as the auto maker's chief financial officer.
Write to Mike Colias at Mike.Colias@wsj.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
January 08, 2021 12:57 ET (17:57 GMT)
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