If all goes as planned, by 2022, employees of Cruise Automation, General Motors’ autonomous technology subsidiary, will have a lot more co-workers to have an after-work beer with.
On Thursday, GM announced it will invest $14 million in a research and development facility for Cruise Automation, the autonomous vehicle technology startup it purchased in March 2016. The plan is to repurpose an existing facility in the San Francisco area, more doubling Cruise’s current R&D space, and add 1,100 jobs over five years there.
Cruise is listed on Glassdoor.com as having under 200 employees, and currently has about 30 open positions listed on its website, in San Francisco, Scottsdale, and Washington D.C.
GM said in an earnings call last year that it paid $581 million for Cruise, after spending the previous two years watching the company test self-driving cars on San Francisco streets.
GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra said in a statement on Thursday that the plan is to continue running Cruise as a startup to give “us the speed we need to continue to stay at the forefront of development of these technologies and the market applications.”
According to GM, Cruise and GM engineers are testing more than 50 Chevrolet Bolt EVs with self-driving technology on public roads in San Francisco; Scottsdale, Arizona; and metro Detroit. The autonomous Bolts are built at GM's Orion Township, Michigan, assembly plant.
“We are excited to significantly expand our footprint in California and continue on our rapid growth trajectory,” said Kyle Vogt, CEO of Cruise Automation, in a statement. “As autonomous car technology matures, our company's talent needs will continue to increase. Accessing the world-class talent pool that the San Francisco Bay Area offers is one of the many reasons we plan to grow our presence in the state.”
GM received $8 million in tax credits from California’s Office of Business and Economic Development for the Cruise expansion.
In its annual Leaderboard report on automated driving, released in March, Navigant Research ranked GM second to Ford in the development of autonomous vehicle technology—and just ahead of Renault-Nissan and Daimler. Eighteen automakers were ranked in 10 criteria: vision; go-to market strategy; partners; production strategy; technology; sales, marketing, and distribution; product capability; product quality and reliability; product portfolio; and staying power. The previous year, GM ranked fourth.