The CEO of General Motors’ (GM’s) self-driving unit Cruise shared an apology for the company’s situation this weekend after an accident last month halted all operations and sparked multiple external and internal investigations.
After it was reported on Thursday that Cruise had suspended an employee share buyback program in which GM purchases worker-owned shares, an apology from CEO Kyle Vogt on Saturday has reinstated the program, as reported by Reuters. In the email, Vogt said workers would be allowed to sell a limited number of shares back to GM after some employees complained about tax obligation concerns.
“I am sorry we have veered off course under my leadership and that this has affected many Cruisers in a deeply personal way,” Vogt wrote in an email to staff.
“As CEO, I take responsibility for the situation Cruise is in today. There are no excuses, and there is no sugar coating what has happened. We need to double down on safety, transparency, and community engagement.”
Vogt also noted that Cruise needed to improve its process around working with regulators, the press and the public, saying that these factors “must improve.”
(1/3) The most important thing for us right now is to take steps to rebuild public trust. Part of this involves taking a hard look inwards and at how we do work at Cruise, even if it means doing things that are uncomfortable or difficult.
— cruise (@Cruise) October 27, 2023
The company’s original suspension of the employee buyback program had said it would ban the sale of shares for the current quarter, while the self-driving startup endures a comprehensive review. The cancellation is expected to cut costs for GM, following the company putting its operations on pause.
Following the suspension, some workers spoke out saying that they would face large tax burdens on the stocks that were vested at higher valuations on October 15. The program was originally introduced in 2022 to help garner talent at the company, which would allow workers to sell vested equity back to GM and investors each quarter.
“We’ve heard your concerns and are developing a plan to conduct a new tender offer that would provide some RSU liquidity to mitigate potential tax obligations,” Vogt said.
“I’m glad they realized they needed to fix the situation,” one worker told Reuters.
The news follows an incident in which a driverless Cruise robotaxi hit and pinned a pedestrian in early October, after which the company’s self-driving permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) was immediately revoked. The GM subsidiary now faces an investigation from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the state, and it has hired third-party firms to help aid its internal reviews of the software and incident response.
Since the incident, it’s been more bad news for Cruise, with the company having laid off hundreds of contractors who were operating and maintaining the driverless fleets in California, Arizona and other locations, according to some sources.
The California DMV said Cruise “misrepresented” and “omitted” certain details in its information about the October 2 pedestrian accident. Cruise has also had to halt GM’s production of the Origin driverless van, and it has recalled nearly 1,000 of its driverless vehicles on U.S. roads.