General Motors has shaken up its executive hierarchy. On Thursday, the automaker said Dan Ammann would leave a top GM post to become CEO of Cruise Automation, its self-driving car division.
Cruise is GM's self-driving car subsidiary, which the automaker purchased in 2016. Ammann led the acquisition as president of GM oversaw the autonomous driving team for some time. Ammann's appointment as Cruise's top executive means former CEO and Cruise co-founder Kyle Vogt will take over as the company's chief technology officer.
The executive shuffle is meant to help the self-driving car subsidiary reach commercial deployment sometime in 2019. GM has said it plans to roll out a self-driving ride-share service somewhere in the U.S. next year. Recent reports underscored the subsidiary's missed internal goals. One former Cruise employee told Reuters earlier this year that nothing is on schedule.
Ammann has a track record for executing critical decisions. The executive has been involved in nearly every major GM action since he joined the automaker in 2010. Aside from the Cruise purchase, Ammann oversaw the purchase of AmeriCredit to place GM back in the auto finance business; as CFO, he installed the "fortress balance sheet" for the automaker.
After being hoisted into the presidency at GM in 2014, Ammann led the sale of GM's unprofitable European business and sold the Opel and Vauxhall brands to France's PSA Group in 2017.
Ammann's departure also follows a major restructuring announcement at GM announced Monday. The automaker plans to idle four U.S. manufacturing facilities and close one car production plant in Canada. The idled plants will lead to thousands of layoffs and the end of production for numerous GM passenger cars, including the Chevrolet Impala, Volt, Cruze, Buick LaCrosse, and Cadillac CT6. The automaker also said it would cut its executive workforce by 25 percent after it offered a buyout package to salaried employees this past October.
Ammann's appointment to CEO will take effect Jan. 1, 2019.