For the second week in a row, General Motors made a strong public statement about its focus on autonomous vehicle development. This time, it named Dan Ammann the CEO of its Cruise autonomous vehicle division. Ammann effectively has been the no. 2 executive for the past four years. He replaces co-founder Kyle Vogt, who will take the title of president —while retaining his existing role as CTO—of the 1,000-plus unit, which is based in San Francisco. GM CEO Mary Barra will pick up Ammann’s six direct reports, bringing her exec team total to 17.
In some ways, the move is symbolic. Ammann already had been closely overseeing Cruise’s progress from Michigan, having led the acquisition of what was a small team in 2016 for more than $500 million. He has been a primary figure in press interviews and comments to investors about Cruise’s technology and business plans. It’s been a tough grind for Cruise and others in the nascent field, but the GM unit got recent endorsements and money from Honda and SoftBank, boosting its post-money valuation to $14.6 billion, or almost 30% of GM’s overall value.