Cruise, the autonomous vehicle subsidiary of General Motors, has confirmed that it is currently under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission. This revelation comes in the wake of a 2023 accident involving a Cruise-branded Chevy Bolt and a pedestrian, prompting scrutiny into Cruise's response.
Originally reported by TechCrunch and disclosed in a comprehensive 200-page report by Quinn Emanuel, a law firm hired by Cruise to evaluate its handling of the incident, the investigations are acknowledged, but details about their scope remain undisclosed.
The aftermath of the October 2023 accident has been marked by setbacks for Cruise, including the loss of its permit to conduct driverless operations in California. Quinn Emanuel's report highlights criticisms of Cruise's response, pointing to “deficient leadership,” a lack of transparency, and an absence of accountability throughout the organization.
The report suggests the possibility that Cruise may have intentionally withheld key details of the accident, raising concerns about misleading the media, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), and the California Highway Patrol. Allegedly, Cruise initially withheld portions of a video showing the crash, the vehicle's pullover maneuver, and the resulting dragging of a pedestrian.
The report also raises questions about the company's interactions with regulatory bodies, citing “internet connectivity issues” during remote meetings with officials, potentially hindering their ability to fully comprehend the incident. Regulators may not have obtained a complete picture, while Cruise contractors reportedly observed indications of injuries on the road.
Cruise has acknowledged shortcomings in meeting regulatory expectations and has committed to implementing recommendations from Quinn Emanuel's report. This includes leadership changes, transparency improvements, and the creation of a cross-disciplinary regulatory team.
Despite these efforts, questions persist about Cruise's future, given its significant financial drain on General Motors. With an $8 billion investment to date, concerns are raised about the sustainability of the autonomous vehicle venture, particularly as competitors like Waymo continue to vie for market dominance. GM is expected to release its year-end earnings on January 30th