Cruise commits to using ‘100 percent renewable energy’ to power its self-driving taxis

Technology

Cruise, the self-driving subsidiary of General Motors, prides itself on being one of the few autonomous vehicle companies to use only electric cars in its fleet. Now, the company is going a step further by committing to using only “100 percent renewable energy” to power its EVs.

Cruise, which has a large fleet of test vehicles operating in San Francisco, said it finally made the transition to “100 percent renewable sources of energy” in the fourth quarter of 2019. It notes that, in the US, about 65 percent of total electricity generation in 2018 was produced from fossil fuels, like coal, natural gas, and petroleum, or materials that come from plants, and municipal and industrial wastes. With this in mind, Cruise began exploring “ways to leverage renewable energy to power our all-electric fleet.”

But the company was vague about its sources of renewable energy, only citing “12 solar projects on school sites in Southern California.” In response to a follow-up question, a spokesperson said that Cruise would be purchasing offset credits through a system called WREGIS, which is an independent tracking system used throughout the Western US and Canada.

In a Medium post last year, Cruise CEO Dan Ammann said the company already owned “nearly 40 percent of all EV fast chargers in San Francisco,” and was planning on building out that network to become “largest EV fast charger station in the country.”

Cruise’s test fleet, much like every AV operator in the US, is grounded due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But right before the pandemic hit the US, the company unveiled a new, purpose-built, shared autonomous vehicle called the Cruise Origin.

There have been some bumps in the road, too. Last year, the company announced that it would miss its goal of launching a large-scale self-driving taxi service in San Francisco by the end of the year.

Cruise says it’s the only AV company to use only electric vehicles as part of its fleet, though other companies are eyeing similar models. Nuro, for example, uses both its all-electric, purpose-built R2 delivery vehicles as well as several dozen Toyota Prius test cars. Others are keeping one foot in the present: Waymo is building a fleet that includes both all-electric Jaguar I-Pace SUVs and gas-burning Chrysler Pacifica minivans.

Argo AI, the Pittsburgh-based self-driving company that’s backed by Ford and Volkswagen, has concerns about an all-electric fleet, especially when it comes to recouping the cost the expensive technology that makes the car autonomous — which the company’s CEO, Bryan Salesky.