San Francisco

GM sues San Francisco, seeking over $108M in tax refunds connected to operations of troubled Cruise subsidiary

Cruise has long been headquartered in San Francisco, and GM is arguing it was over-taxed because of where its beleaguered subsidiary is based.

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The self-driving car company Cruise already pulled all of its cars off of San Francisco streets while it works on safety improvements. Now, its parent company, General Motors is taking the city to court over taxes.

The Detroit automaker filed a lawsuit last Friday. It wants the city of San Francisco to refund $108 million in taxes from the past seven years and pay an extra $13 million in penalties and interest.

GM claims the city over-taxed the corporation because it based Cruise in San Francisco. But the company says Cruise operates separately from the parent company, which is based in Detroit.

In the lawsuit, GM said Cruise generated very little money and there are not that many GM cars in San Francisco.

In fact, GM contends it only sold about $677,000 worth of goods in the city last year. A General Motors spokesperson said the company doesn’t comment on legal matters.

A spokesperson for the San Francisco City Attorney's Office released the following statement on Wednesday night:

“We are reviewing the complaint and will respond in court.”

GM's foray into self-driving cars has been plagued with issues. Cruise co-founder and CEO Kyle Vogt reigned in November, following a series of missteps, CNBC reported. His departure was followed by deep cuts to the company's workforce.

The company issued a voluntary recall affecting 950 of its robotaxis, and suspended all vehicle operations on public roads following a series of incidents that sparked criticism across the country, but especially in San Francisco.

In one serious incident in October, the human hit-and-run driver of another car hit a woman in San Francisco at night, tossing her into the path of a Cruise self-driving car, which then drove over and dragged her along the road. She suffered major injuries.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles suspended Cruise's deployment and testing permits for its autonomous vehicles after that incident. In orders of suspension the California DMV issued to Cruise, the regulators accused the company of failing to give a transparent account of what happened during the pedestrian collision, according to CNBC.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is also investigating Cruise to determine whether its automated driving systems "exercised appropriate caution around pedestrians in the roadway," following several other incidents including complaints from local emergency first responders.

GM purchased Cruise in 2016.

Cruise has been headquartered in San Francisco since its founding in 2013.

California regulators are alleging a San Francisco robotaxi service owned by General Motors covered up the severity of an accident involving one of its driverless cars, raising the specter they may add a fine to the recent suspension of its California license.
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