GM subsidiary Cruise has begun charging customers for rides in its driverless Chevy Bolt EV test vehicles in San Francisco.
Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt appeared on CNBC’s Squawk Box this week, where he confirmed to host Phil LeBeau that the company has begun accepting fares in exchange for rides in its driverless Chevy Bolt EV prototypes. Vogt told LeBeau that members of the public can now use a dedicated smartphone app to order one of its driverless robotaxis, similar to how Uber or Lyft operate.
Last night we collected our first fares from driverless robotaxi rides – a first in any major US city.
Next up: bigger fleet, larger service area, more fun https://t.co/bjrBOCXbBx
— Kyle Vogt (@kvogt) June 23, 2022
The company had previously received a permit from the California Department of Transportation that allowed it to offer complimentary rides in its vehicles and more recently obtained one that would allow it to collect fares in exchange for its services. Vogt said the company is now seeing initial revenue trickling in from the ride-hailing service and has already received some five-star reviews from users. The vehicles are currently geofenced to the northwest part of San Francisco and are only allowed to operate between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 p.m., but Vogt said the company plans to expand rapidly within the city.
“This is something new,” Vogt said. “No major city has had driverless cars running around in it, so there’s a lot of acclimation that communities have to do, law enforcement, we want to make sure everyone’s ready for this. So we started small with a limited area, and very quickly you’re going to see us expand to the point where we’re covering all of San Franciso, hundreds of vehicles out there serving rides every night, I think that could happen by as soon as the end of the year.”
Cruise is currently restricting how many people can sign up for its ride-hailing application to prevent a hoard of users from flooding the system at once and negatively affecting the fledgling company’s logistics. “Everyone wants to try it,” Vogt said. “We have a lot of demand and very limited supply. And so we’re starting with a waitlist. Anyone can go to our website and sign up. Anyone can download the app. And then we’re letting people on as quickly as we can add more cars to the service.”
Going forward, Cruise hopes to parlay lessons learned with its Chevy Bolt EV test vehicles into the Cruise Origin – a dedicated, fully driverless robotaxi that will be produced by GM at its Factory Zero plant in Michigan.