GM drops Ultra Cruise branding, merges tech into Super Cruise

General Motors has abandoned plans to introduce new Ultra Cruise branding for a more advanced version of its Super Cruise automated driver-assist feature that is currently in the works.

The information was first reported last week by CNBC and has since been confirmed to Motor Authority in a statement from GM.

According to the automaker, it doesn’t plan to scale back its targeted capability for Ultra Cruise. Instead, that capability will be rolled into Super Cruise, thus maintaining a single branding that’s already recognized by consumers.

The capability promised for Ultra Cruise will arrive later than planned, however. It was originally due to launch in 2024 as an over-the-air update, starting with the Cadillac Celestiq flagship EV. A new timeline hasn’t been announced.

GM Ultra Cruise

Ultra Cruise was promised as an automated driver-assist feature able to handle 95% of U.S. roads, and ranked at Level 2 on the SAE scale of self-driving capability, just like Super Cruise. Level 2 means a vehicle that can handle itself in certain situations but requires the driver to monitor the situation at all times and be ready to take action when necessary.

Level 3 is the first level where a driver can take their eyes off the road, albeit only for short periods. Mercedes-Benz is the only automaker offering such a system, though the Mercedes system, known as Drive Pilot, has strict conditions, including a severely limited number of highways where it can operate.

GM-backed self-driving technology company Cruise, of which GM owns more than 80%, has also hit a roadblock. Cruise had a robotaxi service running in San Francisco until late last year, when the company was forced to stop the service after California’s DMV determined the company’s robotaxis to be unsafe for public operation.

The DMV made the decision following an Oct. 2 crash in which a pedestrian was thrown into the path of a Cruise robotaxi after being hit by another vehicle. The robotaxi initially stopped but then drove an additional 20 feet, dragging the pedestrian with it. The crash is still being investigated and Cruise hasn’t said when its service will begin operating again.

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