GM-Backed Cruise Seeks California Permit for Robotaxi Fares

(Bloomberg) — Cruise LLC, the self-driving car startup that is majority owned by General Motors Co., filed an application with the State of California for a permit to charge fares for driverless rides.

Cruise needs permission from the California Public Utility Commission to ferry people around in its driverless vehicles without a test driver and charge for the service. The company has already been given permission by the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles to give rides without a safety driver.

The company’s business is a big part of GM’s push to double its revenue to $280 billion by 2030. Cruise’s autonomous ride-hailing business should grow to $50 billion in revenue in about six years, its Chief Executive Officer Dan Ammann said at the automaker’s investor presentation last month.

“Cruise has hit another important milestone today as the first company to apply for the final state permit required to launch an autonomous ride-hail service in California,” said Prashanthi Raman, head of global government affairs at Cruise.

On Nov. 3, Cruise Founder and Chief Technical Officer Kyle Vogt posted a video of himself taking the first driverless ride in San Francisco in the company’s autonomous car. The company will start using a self-driving version of GM’s electric Chevrolet Bolt.

Cruise’s application requests a permit to use as many as 30 autonomous vehicles in a limited geographic area within San Francisco on public roads between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. at a top speed limit of 30 miles per hour, according to the application. It’s also seeking to drive in light rain and fog.

Pending the required approvals, Cruise plans to use its four-to-six passenger Origin shuttle for the service as soon as 2023, Ammann said last month.

As Cruise deploys more vehicles and expands the service to other cities, the company expects its costs to drop. Margins are forecast to be about 40% with scale, he added.

Ammann has been raising money and preparing to grow in other markets. Cruise sold stakes to SoftBank Vision Fund, Honda Motor Co., investment firm T. Rowe Price Associates Inc. and Microsoft Corp. Cruise also has plans to start a ride hailing service in Dubai in 2023.

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