CEO of GM’s self-driving unit stands to make $25 million in incentives

Adding to the flurry of  recent activity around Cruise, GM’s self-driving unit, the automaker on Wednesday disclosed a long-term compensation plan that could net Dan Ammann, the CEO of that unit, $25 million over the next decade if the company goes public or sees a change in ownership, according to GM’s annual 10K filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The disclosure, first reported by Reuters, comes about one month after Ammann, the former GM president, took the reins as the CEO of Cruise. The company also announced a partnership with DoorDash to test a food delivery service in San Francisco using its autonomous vehicle technology.

According to the SEC filing, Ammann was awarded 16,914 restricted stock units for common shares of Cruise and stock options for 101,485 common shares of Cruise by the unit’s board on Monday.

The stock units have a value of $1,515 per share, but Amman’s compensation could soar higher if an eventual IPO drives the value of the stock options far above their strike price of $1,515 per share.

Amman’s restricted stock units vest over the next 10 years, ending on October 15, 2028, if the shares meet a market value set by the Cruise board and only if “a change of control or initial public offering occurs before the 10th anniversary of the date of grant,” according to the SEC filing.

The incentive plan fits in with GM’s aggressive push into autonomous vehicles.  The Detroit-based automaker, which recently announced it would lay off thousands of workers in its core business, spent $700 million on Cruise last year and expects to spend another $1 billion on the unit in 2019, GM executives told analysts during a conference call on Wednesday.

Separately, Japanese technology investment fund SoftBank Group Corp. and Japanese automaker Honda Motor Company invested a total of $5 billion for separate minority stakes in Cruise.

Cruise, which employs 1,100, has said it will launch a robo-taxi service by the end of 2019.

GM Chair and Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra told analysts during the conference call that the automaker was making “rapid progress” with the Cruise technology and that 2019 was a critical year, according to Reuters. “I think it’s in a strong position from funding,” she said. “I think it’s in a strong position as we continue to do the development.”

A report released in January by Citi GPS said GM is leading the big three automakers in developing autonomous vehicle technology and that the company is expected to commercialize an urban RoboTaxi rideshare network this year, likely in San Francisco.

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Linda Baker, Staff Writer

Linda Baker is a FreightWaves staff reporter based in Portland, Oregon. Her beat includes early-stage VC, freight-tech, mobility and West Coast emissions regulations.