General Motors has lost nearly $5 billion since 2018 trying to build a robotaxi business in San Francisco, and now as the automaker's Cruise unit starts charging for rides, the losses are accelerating.
GM said last week that it lost $500 million on Cruise in the second quarter as it began charging for rides in a limited area of San Francisco. That's more than $5 million a day, or the price of a Chevrolet Tahoe every 15 minutes.
Cruise's costly effort to transform autonomous driving technology from a long-term research project to a profitable business comes as investors back away from riskier bets on technology and reassess how soon robot vehicles of any kind will be deployed in large scale on public roads.
Shares of autonomous vehicle technology company Aurora Innovation Inc., for example, are down 80 percent for the year to date. Shares of robo-trucking company TuSimple Holdings Inc. have lost more than 70 percent of their value. Some automakers have scaled back investments in automated vehicle units, or taken on partners to share the costs.
Cruise's losses for the first six months of the year deepened to $900 million from $600 million during the same period in 2021. Higher compensation costs to keep staff on board after putting aside plans for a public stock offering were one factor, GM executives said.