GM’s Cruise hires ex-Delta Chief Operating Officer Gil West

Cruise Origin driverless shuttleCruiseCruise, General Motors’ majority-owned autonomous vehicle subsidiary, has hired former Delta Air Lines Chief Operating Officer Gil West as its first COO, the company said Friday.West retired at the end of September after 12 years at the Atlanta-based airline. He was responsible for Delta’s worldwide operations, including 366 airports in 66 countries, 1,300 aircraft, 200 million customers per year and managed a $16 billion budget. He started shortly before Delta’s 2008 merger with Northwest and was named Delta’s COO in 2014.”Gil’s track record of delivering amazing customer experience, exceptional operating performance and flawless safety, all at large scale, is a perfect fit for Cruise as we begin the journey to commercialize our self-driving technology,” Cruise CEO Dan Ammann said in a statement.West is the second Delta executive to join the automaker’s operations in recent months. GM poached Delta CFO Paul Jacobson as its new finance chief in October. Jacobson replaced Dhivya Suryadevara, who unexpectedly left GM for digital payments company Stripe, effective Dec. 1.The commercialization of self-driving cars is taking far longer than most thought it would, even a few years ago. Despite significant hype on Wall Street and companies, including Cruise, promising driverless ride-hailing fleets by or around now, Alphabet’s Waymo remains the only company operating self-driving vehicles for public use, in Arizona.Cruise had planned to launch a robotaxi fleet in San Francisco in 2019, but those plans were indefinitely delayed for further testing.”Cruise is leading the way to change lives and up-end the status quo of transportation,” West said in a statement. “There will be no bigger shift in the transportation industry in my lifetime than the move to self-driving … I’ve been training my entire career for an opportunity like this one.”

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