Home » GM Is Now Stashing Its Sidelined Cruise Robotaxis In A Defunct Michigan Plant

GM Is Now Stashing Its Sidelined Cruise Robotaxis In A Defunct Michigan Plant

Gm Robo Taxis Ts3
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Late last year, Cruise halted  all of its driverless vehicle operations on public streets. The decision came in the wake of nasty collisions which saw the company’s license to operate suspended in California. This left the GM-backed startup with a whole ton of autonomous vehicles and nothing to do with them. Now, we’ve tracked down where the startup is storing some of the fleet. News-reports suggest it’s been anything but a calm and quiet hiding place for these members of the Cruise fleet.

The news comes to us from reader Nick Thomas, who has a good eye for news. He spotted Cruise Origin shuttles being dropped off at GM’s former Grand Blanc tooling center, and snapped a few spy shots that he’s been kind enough to share with us. The van-like vehicles were dropped off over several days in late February, many in ones and twos on the back of single-tier car trailers. Nick’s photos show the vehicles stacked up in a lot, too, suggesting they’re being stored in their tens, at least.

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So far, all of the vehicles have been built in GM’s Factory ZERO Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly where the company’s Ultium-based models are also produced. Locals have reported seeing trucks carrying Origins leaving the factory and heading somewhere up north. Now we know we’re they’re going.

If you’re not familiar with Grand Blanc, that’s because it’s not one of GM’s star factories. The plant was first opened in 1942 to produce tanks for America’s forces in World War II, before eventually becoming an automotive body plant in 1955. Later, it transitioned to serving largely as a tooling facility, before closing in 2013. Given it’s not in active use, it makes sense that GM would use this land for storage when necessary. [Ed Note: Grand Blanc is about 30 minutes north of Auburn Hills. Quite a few Chrysler employees made that commute daily when working from home wasn’t as big of a thing. -DT]. The only catch is that shortly after the cars were delivered, disaster struck.

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Note the sign for the GM Grand Blanc facility in the background, obscured by the truck.

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Interestingly, the cars are seen coming in ones and twos. Normally, you’d expect car carriers hauling five or six at a time.
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It looks like quite a few Cruise Origin vehicles are being stored at the plant, in their tens at least.

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At this time, we don’t know if the vehicles are being kept outside, or whether they were only held there for a short time before being placed inside a building at the Grand Blanc facility.

Yes, as reported by ABC12, a tornado struck the Grand Blanc area in the early hours of February 28. The twister was rated an EF2, with winds peaking at 115 miles per hour. Crucially, there were no injuries or fatalities reported.

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As the tornado made its way through the area, it destroyed a warehouse on the corner of Dort and Reid, less than a quarter-mile from the GM plant. The tornado passed remarkably close to the GM-owned buildings where the Cruise Origin vehicles were seen.

It was not initially clear at this stage whether the vehicles or the buildings may have been damaged by the tornado, but an employee at a nearby store confirmed to The Autopian that the tornado missed the plant and didn’t seem to cause any damage. We reached out to Cruise for comment on the matter, and received this response:

These are the Origins built at GM’s Factory Zero in 2023. With the rescaling and retiming of Cruise’s operations we will not be deploying Origins this year. They are being stored at GM’s facility in in Grand Blanc as there is not enough space at Factory Zero.  These vehicles will be used for future AV engineering, development, manufacturing and education.

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A photo of the damage to a warehouse near the GM facility, posted by Grand Blanc Township Police Department.
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A diagram of the estimated path of the tornado, prepared by Autopian reader Nick Thomas.

The Cruise spokesperson also indicated that neither Cruise vehicles nor GM facilities were damaged by the tornado.

What this move could indicate is that Cruise simply has more vehicles than it knows what to do with right now and, in fact, sources told TechCrunch last year that the company had “hundreds of Origin vehicles” in its possession.

With the robotaxis effectively kicked out of California, and with Cruise imposing its own hiatus on operations in Phoenix, Texas and Miami, the vehicles likely needed to be put in storage. It would make the most sense to keep them close to those markets, you’d think, if they were going to be back in service anytime soon. Stashing them in a disused factory in Detroit, close to where they’re being made, suggests the vehicles might have been sent away to be mothballed for some time. [Ed Note: Still, it’s good to have vehicles near GM’s engineering HQ for development reasons. -DT]

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On the topic of redeployment, a Cruise spokesperson indicated the company would be taking things slow. As stated above, the Origin vehicles will not be sent out again this year. As for the company’s other efforts, it will restart with Bolt AVs. As per the spokesperson:

We have not set a timeline for deployment. Our goal is to relaunch in one city with manually driven vehicles and supervised testing using Bolt AVs as soon as possible once we have taken steps to rebuild trust with regulators and the public.

In any case, it looks like the Cruise Origin vehicle will be in storage for some time. Who knows, maybe you should keep your eye out on Michigan Craigslist for “one futuristic transport pod, barely used.”

Image credits: Nick Thomas, Grand Blanc Township Police Department

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Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
1 month ago

Those spy shots look like something the Qanon crowd would use to come up with a whole new conspiracy theory. Can’t wait to see what they come up with.

WalmartTech
WalmartTech
1 month ago

Our goal is to relaunch in one city with manually driven vehicles and supervised testing using Bolt AVs as soon as possible once we have taken steps to rebuild trust with regulators and the public.

Automotive Youtuber WatchJRGo actually witnessed Cruise unloading vehicles a couple of weeks ago in Nashville, TN and made a post about it on Twitter/X.

EmotionalSupportBMW
EmotionalSupportBMW
1 month ago

Let this be a sign from God GM! He who creates robotaxis summons tornados. Why must we tempt fate with this heresy!

Eva
Eva
1 month ago

Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a man’s mind.

Collegiate Autodidact
Collegiate Autodidact
1 month ago

For those looking to remake Fritz Lang’s film Metropolis those Cruise Robotaxis would make a good stand-in for the unfortunate Rumpler Tropfenwagen:
http://imcdb.org/i035386.jpg
The Rumpler Tropfenwagen was an innovative Austrian experiment in aerodynamics and about 100 were made between 1921 and 1925, most of which were used as taxis but proved to be rather unpopular due to reliability issues (mostly simply teething troubles & could’ve been sorted out given time) and an apparent lack of luggage space though a relatively low floor and a high roof were indeed conducive to use as taxis. Many were simply disposed of and the last batch was bought up for the film Metropolis where those vehicles met an ignominous end. Just two are known to survive, so please check your barns (& attics), especially since the Rumpler Tropfenwagen is an indubitably cool vehicle: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/00/Rumpler_Tropfenwagen.jpg

Greensoul
Greensoul
1 month ago

Wow, so these are what futuristic rodent condos look like!

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
1 month ago

Eugh that’s a pretty clickbaity headline when the outcome is

> an employee at a nearby store confirmed to The Autopian that the tornado missed the plant and didn’t seem to cause any damage

“Potential disaster” => “sike nothing happened”

Y’all can do better. I am sad.

Matt Hardigree
Matt Hardigree
1 month ago

We debated it back-and-forth a bit.

GM Started Stashing Its Cruise Robotaxis In Michigan And Narrowly Avoided Having Them Wiped Out By A Tornado

That feels more aggressive to me?

Last edited 1 month ago by Matt Hardigree
MP81
MP81
1 month ago

Yeah, it’s more-or-less a barely-car-adjacent weather article.

My in-laws live in Grand Blanc (just having moved back in the fall from out of state) and they mentioned the tornado as well.

Since this is mostly a weather article, the high on Tuesday was in the low-70s. By the same time on Wednesday, it was 25 – so the crazy storms that happened in-between (overnight) were certainly not much of a surprise.

Space
Space
1 month ago
Reply to  MP81

Now That is a powerful cold front!

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
1 month ago

^This is the correct reply!!

Matt Hardigree
Matt Hardigree
1 month ago

Updated it, maybe this version is better

Mordax
Mordax
1 month ago
Reply to  Matt Hardigree

I think I would have gone with: “GM Narrowly Avoids Hitting More Pedestrians With Autonomous Cars”

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
1 month ago
Reply to  Matt Hardigree

Thank you!!! Man, this place is legit. Y’all take feedback like pros. <3

MrAcoustics
MrAcoustics
1 month ago

Funny this article just came out, I saw 2 of them on the back of a truck going north on i-75 just this morning. Now I know where they were headed.

Mrbrown89
Mrbrown89
1 month ago

Interesting fact, the wire harness for this vehicle was proudly displayed across the organization (at least for engineering) to show how this was the biggest harness ever produced in a vehicle. Imagine all the cooper scrap money you can get from that alone lol

Waremon0
Waremon0
1 month ago
Reply to  Mrbrown89

Why is that a bragging point? Credit where it’s due, the 48 volt system in the Cybertruck is remarkable and I hope that it gets picked up by other companies for weight savings and reduction in resources.

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
1 month ago

Knowing GM, Mary Barra probably summoned this tornado on purpose, using some sort of amulet or crystal with one of Roger Smith’s eyeballs embedded inside of it.

Abdominal Snoman
Abdominal Snoman
1 month ago

This storm really seems to have caused havoc all throughout the midwest.
https://www.twz.com/air/tornado-ravages-air-force-museum-restoration-hangar-at-wright-patterson-afb

Matt Sexton
Matt Sexton
1 month ago

The Cruise Origin already has an EPA certification for 2024 and I think they were going to be released imminently, until “The Incident” and whatever hit the fan wasn’t evenly distributed. It’ll be really interesting to see whatever happens to the Origin from here, maybe in 2044 someone will find a few in a barn as a promise of what might have been.

NosrednaNod
NosrednaNod
1 month ago

“Insurance claim” would have been the best possible outcome for GM

Turn the Page
Turn the Page
1 month ago

Saw a couple of them yesterday, each on a flatbed wrecker, heading north on 1-75 between Grand Blanc and Flint.

Church
Church
1 month ago

Honestly, I bet GM execs were hoping the tornado would wipe out the vehicles. Then it’s an insurance claim. Sunk cost either way, I guess, but would have been nice to recoup some of the money.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 month ago
Reply to  Church

I bet GM is self insured for the first few million. Maybe a write off but that might not affect them too much different than a loss from expected revenue. Any tax people here?

Dan Pritts
Dan Pritts
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

I can’t imagine a company as large as GM doesn’t self insure for most things.

I think the write off of the vehicle cost is going to be noise. The real loss is the money they poured down the shit hole of trying to make these things drive themselves.

Dan Pritts
Dan Pritts
1 month ago
Reply to  Dan Pritts

As I think about it, it’s easy enough to write them off if they’re no longer commercially valuable, which they’re not. No tornado needed.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 month ago
Reply to  Dan Pritts

Thanks about what I thought but I do t know everything. Right?

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