General Motors is set to lower its spending on autonomous vehicles. What are the implications for Europe?
The US company is planning to scale back its spending on its self-driving unit Cruise after a pedestrian accident last month, according to Reuters news agency via the Financial Times.
It comes after one of Cruise's driverless cabs was not able to stop in time from hitting a pedestrian, raising safety concerns.
Cruise then paused all supervised and manual car trips in the United States while also expanding a safety review of its robotaxis.
It caused issues for the firm and prompted the chief executive, Kyle Vogt, and the chief product officer, Daniel Kan, to resign.
Meanwhile, GM's robotaxi unit said it was planning to re-launch in an unspecified city before expanding to others.
Robotaxi also said it would focus on its Bolt-based Cruise autonomous vehicles in the near term.
Implications on the European market?
GM actually exited the European market in 2017. According to an article published by business analyst, Amr Elharony, GM sold its European brands, Opel and Vauxhall, to French automaker PSA, which marked the end of GM's nearly 90-year presence in Europe.
He noted how the move was aimed at unloading a struggling business and focusing on more profitable markets like North America.
"Before the sale, GM's European business was bleeding money. Over nine years, it accumulated about $14 billion in losses. The best year during that period still saw a 1.4% loss. In contrast, GM turned a profit of $28 billion in North America over the same period," he said.
After the sale, he noted how PSA has managed to restore profitability to the Opel and Vauxhall brands by cutting costs and introducing new, more profitable models.
However, it was recently highlighted by GM's Europe president that General Motors will officially return to the European auto market in autumn 2023, marking the end of a five-year absence.
The return will reportedly be underpinned exclusively by battery-electric models, with Scandinavian countries and Switzerland as the first markets.