SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – The CEO of Cruise, General Motors Co’s robotaxi unit, apologized on Saturday for the company’s situation in the wake of an accident that halted self-driving vehicle operations while it conducted a safety review.
In an email to employees reviewed by Reuters, Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt said the company would make a new offer to allow employees to sell shares, just two days after canceling a previous offer.
“I am sorry that we veered off course under my leadership and that this affected many Cruisers in a very personal way,” Vogt wrote in an email to staff.
“As CEO, I take responsibility for the situation Cruz is in today. There are no excuses, and there is no cover-up for what happened. We need to double down on safety, transparency, and community engagement.”
Vogt also noted that the company’s approach to working with regulators, the press and the public “has to improve.”
Cruz said on Thursday that employees will not be able to sell their shares in the buyback program in the current quarter as it is subject to a compensation review.
But Vogt said in his email Saturday that some employees could sell a limited number of shares in a one-time opportunity, citing workers’ concerns about tax liabilities.
The unlisted Cruise unit introduced the stock program – designed to attract and retain talent – in 2022 to allow current and former employees to sell their vested shares to GM and other investors every three months.
The suspension of the program sparked a backlash from some employees who said they would face heavy tax burdens on shares that were given a much higher valuation on October 15.
Canceling the program helped lower GM’s costs after it was forced to temporarily halt cruise operations.
“We have heard your concerns and are developing a plan to conduct a new tender offer that will provide some RSU liquidity to mitigate potential tax liabilities,” Vogt said, referring to restricted stock units, a type of stock compensation.
Vogt did not provide any details about the new offer.
“I’m glad they realized they needed to fix the situation,” one frustrated employee told Reuters on Saturday.
A Cruz spokesman had no immediate comment Saturday.
In November, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) ordered Cruise to remove its self-driving cars from the state’s roads, calling the vehicles a danger to the public and saying the company had misrepresented the safety of its technology.
The regulator said Cruise did not initially disclose all video footage of an incident on October 2 that ended with Cruise’s self-driving taxi pulling a pedestrian.
Cruz said he showed California DMV officials the full video of the incident several times and provided a copy to officials.
Cruise has halted all robotaxi services in the United States, saying it needs to regain public trust through a full safety review of its vehicles and self-driving technology.
(Reporting by Greg Bensinger and Hyunjoo Jin in San Francisco; Reporting by Muhammad for the Arabic Bulletin) (Additional reporting by David Shepardson in Washington) Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Tom Hogue
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