Cruise Becomes First Self-Driving Company to Power Vehicles With 100% Renewable Energy

Tracy Cheung
Apr 22 · 4 min read

At Cruise, our vision is to develop solutions for today’s broken transportation system. We’re designing for a future that is safer, more affordable, and better for us, our cities, and our planet. I’ve written before about why every city car should be electric (and self driving), and Cruise has long championed the benefits of electric vehicles for our communities.

We’re proud to be the only self-driving company to operate an entire fleet of all-electric vehicles. Today, we’re excited to share that we’ve taken this commitment a step further by running our San Francisco fleet of autonomous vehicles (AVs) on 100% renewable energy.

What 100% renewable energy really means

By making a deliberate choice for our AV fleet to be all-electric, we’ve already taken the biggest step toward reducing our fleet’s emissions. Still, we continue to push for ways to reduce our footprint.

While electric vehicles produce vastly fewer emissions than internal combustion engines over the course of their lifetimes, the fossil fuels burned to produce electricity still emit harmful greenhouse gases. In the United States, about 65% of total electricity generation in 2018 was produced from fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and petroleum), materials that come from plants (biomass), and municipal and industrial wastes. As such, Cruise began exploring ways to leverage renewable energy to power our all-electric fleet.

Since Q4 2019, our fleet has been powered by 100% carbon-free, renewable energy, including from 12 solar projects on school sites in Southern California. In 2020, Cruise will continue to power our SF fleet with 100% local, carbon-free, renewable energy.

Cruise all-electric, self-driving vehicle charging at an EV charging station.
Cruise all-electric, self-driving vehicle charging at an EV charging station.

Our actions are enabled by bold policies in California

The California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) Low Carbon Fuel Standards (LCFS) regulation is a great example of how regulators can align economic and environmental incentives to support a cleaner future for California. LCFS is driving much-needed innovative strategies to reduce emissions in our transportation sector and encourage fleets to make decisions that are not only great for the environment but also great economically. Similarly, California’s goal for 5 million ZEVs by 2030 and SF Mayor London Breed’s EV Roadmap are critical to making our future more sustainable.

This is important because transportation is the single largest GHG contributor in the United States. In California alone, transportation accounts for over 40% of total emissions, 70% of which come from light-duty passenger vehicles. Every gasoline-powered car emits more than three times its own weight of CO² into the air each year and pollutes our air six times more than an all-electric vehicle. This means that electric vehicles can lower GHG emissions by 83% versus gas-powered cars and have zero tailpipe emissions.

Source: U.S. Department of Energy

Today, with fewer cars on the road, we’re getting a real-world look at the impact of fewer tailpipe emissions. In the San Francisco Bay Area, carbon dioxide emissions have decreased by roughly 20% and nitrogen dioxide emissions by roughly 40%. It’s a stark reminder that small actions on a large scale can make a big impact, and that transforming transportation as we know it is imperative.

Cruise is committed to making our cities greener

An archival clip of a Cruise all-electric, self-driving vehicle driving through San Francisco’s Presidio district.

Addressing transportation emissions requires all of us to look holistically at our footprint and is only possible with the support of multiple organizations across the public and private sector. In San Francisco, we remain committed to operating a fleet of all-electric vehicles, powered with 100% renewable energy.

As you may have seen, Cruise recently unveiled a self-driven, all-electric, and shared transportation vehicle: the Cruise Origin, complete with the world’s first million mile battery. We are working hard to bring safer and cleaner transportation to the cities we love and will offer an alternative to the polluting gas vehicles that have for too long been a fixture on our roads.

We hope that powering our San Francisco fleet with 100% renewable energy is only a stepping stone as we explore ways to move our fleet beyond carbon-free to carbon negative power sources. We’re excited about emerging technologies that can provide new sources of electricity that power how we move. For example, we’re learning more about projects that capture methane from landfills and dairy farms and then harness those harmful gases (that would otherwise contribute to global warming) to create carbon negative, renewable electricity.

By taking this next step with our fleet of electric vehicles, Cruise hopes to hasten the transition to sustainable transportation powered by carbon-free renewable resources. Once cities adopt sustainable transportation at scale, we will all be able to breathe in the clean air that our people and planet deserve every single day.

Read more about our commitment to driving life in cities forward one self-driving Cruise at a time on our website.

Tracy Cheung

Written by

Senior Fleet Energy Manager at Cruise and Utilities industry veteran with 11+ years of experience working in clean energy and sustainability

Cruise

Cruise

Cruise is building the world’s most advanced self-driving vehicles to safely connect people with the places, things and experiences they care about. Join us in solving the engineering challenge of a generation: https://getcruise.com/careers

Tracy Cheung

Written by

Senior Fleet Energy Manager at Cruise and Utilities industry veteran with 11+ years of experience working in clean energy and sustainability

Cruise

Cruise

Cruise is building the world’s most advanced self-driving vehicles to safely connect people with the places, things and experiences they care about. Join us in solving the engineering challenge of a generation: https://getcruise.com/careers

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store