General Motors subsidiary Cruise announced today that it will lay off roughly 8 percent of its full-time staff in a bid to cut costs amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Automotive News, most of the staff cuts fall outside of Cruise’s engineering and core development teams. It’s not clear exactly which positions were cut.
“In this time of great change, we’re fortunate to have a crystal-clear mission and billions of dollars in the bank,” Cruise spokesman Ray Wert said in a statement. “The actions we took today reflect us doubling down on engineering work and engineering talent.”
GM has roughly 2,000 employees and around 160 people are believed to have been cut. Wert said Cruise intends to keep on hiring tech talent as it continues its mission to develop a driverless robotaxi service.
In a staff memo announcing the cuts, Cruise CEO Dan Ammann said the decision to release some full-time staff was “very difficult,” but reiterated the changes “are the right choice for the mission.”
Cruise originally intended to launch its driverless robotaxi service before the end of 2019, but delayed the launch indefinitely after experiencing various development setbacks. Cruise has not said when the service will finally launch, but it debuted its first driverless car, the Cruise Origin, back in January. The Origin will go into production at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck plant sometime in 2022, GM said earlier this year.
GM hopes to one day position Cruise as an alternative to ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft. Without having to pay drivers a large percentage of the rider fare like Uber and Lyft currently do, the automaker sees the potential for Cruise to generate massive profits.
GM itself has not laid off any workers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The automaker expects many of its production lines to return to work before the end of the month.