CEO of GM’s autonomous vehicle branch Cruise is leaving the company

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A robot car of the General Motors subsidiary Cruise is on a test drive in 2019.

Andrej Sokolow | picture alliance | Getty Images

Dan Ammann, CEO of General Motors autonomous vehicle branch Cruise, is leaving the company, GM announced Thursday. The move is effective immediately.

Shares of GM were down about 4.5% after hours.

Cruise’s President and CTO Kyle Vogt will take over as interim CEO, the company said. Vogt is also a co-founder of the business and previously served as CEO.

Additionally, Cruise will gain a new board member: Former Chairman and CEO of Northrop Grumman Wesley Bush, who is also a GM board member.

Ammann’s departure is unexpected. The executive, a former investment banker, was well-respected by Wall Street analysts. He began leading Cruise after serving as GM’s CFO as well as president.

This is at least the second major announced departure of a well-known GM executive this week. Pam Fletcher, head of the GM’s innovation unit, was named Wednesday as Delta Air Lines’ chief sustainability officer, effective Feb. 1.

GM said the leadership change comes along with plans to accelerate a strategy it laid out at its most recent Investor Day, with Cruise playing a key role in building out its autonomous vehicle platform. Ammann is the one who laid out those plans, which included aiming to grow a fleet of at least 1 million self-driving vehicles by 2030.

In November, Cruise began seeking final approval to commercialize its robotaxi fleet in San Francisco, setting it up to be the first company to operate a fleet of cars without human drivers under certain conditions. It currently operates a fleet of Chevrolet Bolt EVs retrofitted with self-driving vehicle software and extra technologies, like radars and lidar, and cameras.

Ammann, who previously served as president at GM, is credited with the 2016 acquisition of Cruise. He was named CEO of Cruise in late 2018.

Since acquiring Cruise, GM has invested billions in the operations and brought on investors such as Honda Motor, Softbank Vision Fund and, more recently, Walmart and Microsoft.

Cruise, under Ammann, has missed some key milestones. Most notably, missing plans to launch a ride-hailing service for the public in San Francisco in 2019. The company delayed those plans that year to conduct further testing and obtain the needed regulatory approvals.

WATCH: Dan Ammann, CEO of GM’s Cruise leaving effective immediately

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