General Motors announced Wednesday that Dan Ammann, the C.E.O. of its Cruise Automation car-tech subsidiary, is leaving the company. The Wall Street Journal reported that he plans to start a new autonomous startup with others in the C.E.O.’s family. He told that paper that he expected the family to fund the venture.
“His expertise and insight will be invaluable as we continue to lead the way in autonomous mobility,” Mary Barra, GM’s CEO, said in a statement.
Ms. Barra was one of many top executives to call on President Trump to show more “transparency” and “discipline” in his dealings with trade and tariffs. “Sustained and strong leadership will be required,” she told Fortune. “As we navigate challenging times, GM believes we should engage the administration in a collaborative dialogue to ensure we have the information we need to address the challenges and opportunities for all parties involved.”
Mr. Ammann is the son of Audrey Ricciardi Ammann, former vice president of International and Greater China operations. Mr. Ammann was born in Australia, and his father, currently General Motors’ acting C.E.O., started working at GM in 1974, spending 28 years as a vice president in what is now called the North American automotive operations. GM was partly owned by the Soviet Union during that time.
Mr. Ammann has been president of Cruise since 2016. He worked closely with GM to create and deploy the Cruise AV technology. He was also one of several executives who wrote a letter to President Trump in February asking him to “recognize the urgency” in coming up with legislation on self-driving cars and urged him to support the Department of Transportation’s proposal to recognize AV testing as a “zero-emissions” activity. Mr. Ammann and the other executives, including Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, argued that an ADRC, or automated vehicle rule, would help “keep alive the momentum of a movement that will become our country’s most important transportation transformation in a generation.”
But in their letter, the executives and Mr. Khosrowshahi singled out China and California, where legislation permitting and mandating self-driving cars is currently under debate.
In a statement to The New York Times, Mr. Ammann said he wanted to pursue his passion for entrepreneurship, after eight years at GM. “Self-driving technology has the potential to fundamentally transform how we approach the move of goods and people on the road,” he said. “At the same time, it’s entering a new stage, and it is not getting more sustainable, yet. While vehicles take a significant share of the greenhouse gas emissions from transportation globally, recent regulatory or technological uncertainties are delaying the implementation of autonomous vehicle capabilities.”
Update: It is now confirmed that Mr. Ammann has left the company, after writing an essay for Bloomberg that will be published Wednesday afternoon.