Cruise, the self-driving subsidiary of General Motors, is proud to be one of the few autonomous vehicle companies that only uses electric cars in its fleet. Now, the company is going one step further by committing to using only ‘100 percent renewable energy’ to power its electric vehicles.
Cruise, which has a large fleet of test vehicles in San Francisco, said it finally made the switch to “100 percent renewable energy sources” in the fourth quarter of 2019. It notes that in the US approximately 65 percent of total electricity production in 2018 it was produced from fossil fuels, such as coal, natural gas and petroleum, or from factories, and municipal and industrial waste. With this in mind, Cruise has started exploring “ways to use renewable energy to power our all-electric fleet.”
But the company was vague about its renewable energy sources, citing only “12 solar projects at school locations in Southern California.” In response to a follow-up question, a spokesperson said Cruise would buy credits by a system called WREGIS, an independent tracking system used throughout the Western US and Canada.
Last year in a medium postCruise CEO Dan Ammann said the company already owned “nearly 40 percent of all EV fast chargers in San Francisco,” and planned to expand that network into “the largest EV fast charging station in the country.”
Cruise’s test fleet, like any AV operator in the US, has been grounded due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But just before the pandemic hit the US, the company unveiled a new purpose-built shared autonomous vehicle called the Cruise Origin.
There have also been some bumps in the road. Last year, the company announced 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 is the only AV company that only uses electric vehicles as part of its fleet, although other companies keep an eye out for similar models. For example, Nuro uses both its fully electric, purpose-built R2 vans and several dozen Toyota Prius test cars. Others keep their footing in the present: Waymo is building a fleet of both fully electric Jaguar I-Pace SUVs and gas-powered Chrysler Pacifica minivans.
Argo AI, the Pittsburgh-based self-driving company backed by Ford and Volkswagen, is concerned about an all-electric fleet, especially when it comes to recouping the cost of the expensive technology that makes the car autonomous – which the CEO of the company, Bryan Salesky, explained in a recent episode of The Vergecast.