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GM’s Barra Dismissed Cruise CEO Ammann Over Mission, IPO

  • Once a star at GM, unit boss wanted to keep focus on robotaxi
  • Automaker was worried a Cruise IPO would slow its own progress
Dan Ammann speaks as he stands in front of the Cruise Origin electric driverless shuttle during a reveal event in San Francisco on Jan. 21, 2020. 

Dan Ammann speaks as he stands in front of the Cruise Origin electric driverless shuttle during a reveal event in San Francisco on Jan. 21, 2020. 

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
Updated on

Cruise LLC Chief Executive Officer Dan Ammann had a slate of meetings on Dec. 16 when he got an early afternoon call from General Motors Co. CEO Mary Barra. She told Ammann he was being dismissed from the robotaxi startup that GM controls through a majority stake, say people familiar with the events.

What seemed abrupt to outsiders and people working at Cruise had been building for months. The two executives didn’t agree on how to focus the breakthrough self-driving technology that the Silicon Valley unit is preparing to launch with a taxi service. Barra and GM’s board were pushing a grand vision that included transferring that knowledge to create luxury Cadillacs, self-driving cars sold at retail or delivery vehicles for GM’s new electric-van business. The opportunities, and their potential value, were immense.