General Motors’ CEO Mary Barra and its president Mark Reuss recently took rides in two autonomous vehicles made by the automaker’s subsidiary, Cruise. The ride, said Barra, was one of the highlights of her career.
Barra took a drive around San Francisco with Cruise co-founder and interim CEO Kyle Vogt in a car called “Tostada,” while Reuss took a ride with GM’s VP of communications, Craig Buchholz, in another car called “Disco.”
“I always believed we’d be doing it, but to actually be doing it? It’s just surreal,” said Barra.
Even though the executives run the companies that made these cars, they were a bit surprised by the driverless vehicles that have been operating without safety drivers since late 2020. On her way into the car, Barra peeked in through the window just to take in the strangeness of seeing a vehicle move without a driver.
From the back seats, they were able to see the same amazement from the occupants of other vehicles on the road, with Vogt noticing someone smiling from another car and waving at them. “You think you know what it’s going to be like and then you do it and you have – it’s just, it’s mindblowing,” said Buchholz.
Barra, though, said that trust was built in the vehicle quickly, arguing that people with apprehensions just need to experience an autonomous car. Reuss, too, noted how smooth and comfortable the drive was in the video that is, essentially, a promo for Cruise. “I feel like we’re making history,” Barra told Vogt. “I mean I know you’ve already done it but for me to just be in one of these first handful of rides, it’s like a highlight of my career because we know what this technology can do.”
In June 2021, Cruise announced that it had started building its first batch of nearly 100 pre-production examples of the Cruise Origin, an autonomous pod without driving controls. Set to be built at GM’s Factory Zero, the electric vehicle will eventually be manufactured alongside the GMC Hummer EV.