GM Halts Ultra Cruise to Prioritize Super Cruise

GM’s Shift: Combining Efforts for One Strong Product, Not Two Mediocre Ones

About six months back, we were informed that General Motors’ Ultra Cruise launch was delayed until this year. However, it seems that the system won’t be coming at all now. The reason behind this shift is the automaker’s decision to prioritize enhancements for their Super Cruise instead. According to a report by CNBC, the recent issues faced by GM’s self-driving subsidiary, Cruise, have prompted the company to reassess its approach towards semi-autonomous driving. As per two sources, cited by the news agency, the Ultra Cruise program will be discontinued and the focus will now be on enhancing the existing Super Cruise system, making it more advanced and capable.

Maintaining the same exact quoted text, Darryll Harrison Jr., GM’s VP of global technology communications, stated that “GM is continuously expanding the access to and enhancing the capabilities of Super Cruise.” He also mentioned that the company’s main priority is “to safely implement this technology in all GM brands and various vehicle categories, as well as expanding to additional roads.” However, he did not provide any specific details.

“Harrison Jr. has responded to our request for comment and stated, “GM is not reducing the scope of its advanced driver assistance programs. We have instead reassigned our resources focused on ADAS to further enhance the capabilities of Super Cruise, consolidating it under one recognizable consumer brand.”

“To put it more precisely, rather than having various teams working on multiple ADAS programs, we now have a single ADAS team dedicated to enhancing the capabilities of the system that our customers are familiar with and appreciate.”

Our anticipation to try out the Ultra Cruise feature on the Cadillac Celestiq had us eagerly awaiting this year, however GM’s Level 2 autonomous driving assistance, which competes with Tesla’s Full Self-Driving suite, turns out to be quite similar to the superlative Super Cruise technology that we have already experienced. The only difference is that Ultra Cruise can now be utilized on a wider range of public paved roads in the US, including both rural and narrow urban streets. Although there are plans for Super Cruise to receive additional enhancements by 2024, details about when and what those upgrades will entail are still uncertain.

Recent developments in the field of self-driving cars have shown that the long-awaited reality of these vehicles may not be as imminent as previously thought by automakers just a few years ago. In light of the controversies surrounding the use of autonomous vehicles in San Francisco, GM was compelled to reduce its ambitions for its Cruise robotaxi program and postpone the release of its highly anticipated autonomous Cruise Origin vehicle. These events highlight the fact that there is still a significant amount of progress to be made before fully self-driving cars can be widely deployed, making it logical for automakers to focus on perfecting the technology under one cohesive brand.

Although it is disheartening that Ultra Cruise seems to be vanishing, it is reassuring to know that Super Cruise will soon be offered on a wider range of Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, and Buick models. Currently, this technology is limited to only a handful of vehicles such as the Cadillac Escalade, XT6, and Lyriq, the Chevy Blazer EV, Silverado, Tahoe, and Suburban, and the GMC Sierra and Hummer EV.

As of now, despite continuous advancements in Tesla’s FSD system, Mercedes remains ahead in Level 3 autonomous technology, closely followed by BMW and Hyundai. It is hopeful that GM CEO Mary Barra’s apparent decision to concentrate on a single system will aid in bridging the gap between them and the leaders in autonomous driving.

The objective is to enhance Super Cruise, which is already deemed one of the top systems in its category. With increased determination, it will not be a lengthy task to narrow the margin.

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