General Motors plans to build a grand total of zero units of its Cruise Origin autonomous vehicle during calendar year 2024 according to the latest statements from its driverless car subsidiary.
A few prototypes of the Origin will be built in the final weeks of 2023, Automotive News reports, presumably for use on private GM testing grounds, but neither prototypes nor production vehicles will roll off the assembly line next year.
GM has not revealed how many Origin units it produced this year or the exact number of additional prototypes it will complete before suspending production. The production halt currently has no end date, though the company has also made it clear that it is not outright discontinuing the autonomous vehicle (AV) model, at least at this point.
Earlier, former Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt, who founded the robotaxi service but recently resigned, indicated several hundred Origin vehicles had already been built. Just a few months ago, Vogt was confident the Origin would get NHTSA approval for deployment on public streets. However, federal safety standards require manual steering controls and pedals, both of which are absent from the Origin’s standard design.
The Cruise Origin is designed to be the successor to the current Cruise AVs, small vehicles modified from Chevy Bolt EV units. Engineered from the ground up as an autonomous vehicle, it has a “friendly” looking, non-threatening rounded exterior with rather “pudgy” styling, sliding side doors, and facing bench seats for larger numbers of passengers.
The Origin is crucial to GM’s future robotaxi plans because it is a simpler design considerably reducing the number of components and therefore slashing production expense, at least when produced in large numbers. It is also made to be durable, reliable, and long-lived, helping to bring operating costs “below $1 per mile, the magic threshold at which robots actually become cheaper for most people than owning a car,” per former chief executive Vogt.
As a reminder, the Origin is powered by Ultium Battery technology and motivated by Ultium Drive motors, while large-scale production, if and when it resumes, will take place at the Factory Zero plant.