General Motors' Cruise Autonomous Driving Division Looks to Double in Size

Regardless of recent mass layoffs, GM is looking to hire more engineers and triple its office space in the Bay Area.

General Motors

General Motors' Cruise self-driving car division is about to go on a hiring spree. As GM cuts jobs elsewhere and plans to close assembly plants, Cruise is looking to double its staff, reports Reuters.

The news was confirmed by a Cruise spokesperson, who said the division was looking to hire mostly engineers. The spokesperson did not quote a specific number, but Cruise currently employs more than 1,000 people, according to Reuters. Cruise is also reportedly looking to triple its office space in San Francisco.

Originally an independent startup, Cruise was acquired by GM in 2016. As a division of the Detroit automaker, Cruise has conducted tests of prototype self-driving cars on public roads in Arizona, California, and Michigan. Cruise uses modified Chevrolet Bolt EV electric cars, which are fitted with their autonomous-driving hardware on the same assembly line that churns out cars sold to the general public.

Cruise recently secured major investments from Honda and Japan's SoftBank, which is also a major investor in Uber. But GM reported in its 2018 financial results that Cruise lost $728 million last year. That's 19 percent more than the reported loss for 2017.

While rival Ford has taken steps toward commercializing self-driving cars through partnerships with Domino's and Postmates, and Waymo is operating a small-scale autonomous ride-hailing service in Arizona, GM has been slow to make similar moves with Cruise. The company only recently announced its first commercial partnership, which will see Cruise vehicles deliver food for DoorDash.

As GM plans to hire more staff at Cruise, it's cutting jobs in other areas. In November 2018, the automaker announced plans to cut its salaried workforce by 15 percent and close multiple North American factories. The Hamtramck plant near Detroit has since gotten a stay of execution, but three other factories (two in the United States, one in Canada) are still scheduled to close this year. GM has said the cuts are necessary to help fund emerging technologies, so such as autonomous cars.