GM expands Super Cruise tech for use on 400K miles of roadways

Kalea Hall
The Detroit News

Customers driving General Motors Co.'s vehicles with the Super Cruise hands-free driving technology soon will have access to double the amount of miles where they can use the technology, GM said Wednesday.

The Detroit automaker is expanding Super Cruise availability from 200,000 miles to 400,000 miles of roadways in the U.S. and Canada, included undivided highways. The technology was previously only offered on mapped divided highways or interstates. A few known routes with large sections coming online in the expansion include: U.S. Route 66, California State Route 1,  U.S. Route 1 and the Trans-Canada Highway.

Super Cruise is available as an option on new vehicles built on the VIP electrical architecture.

The expansion will be available later this year on previously sold model year 2021 and 2022 vehicles with that architecture. It will be offered at no additional charge over-the-air on Super Cruise-equipped models, which have included the Cadillac CT4, CT5, Escalade, GMC Hummer EV and electric Cadillac Lyriq. It will also be available on some new 2023 model year vehicles.

GM still intends to have Super Cruise on 22 models sold in the U.S. and Canada by the end of 2023, but the chip shortage has affected its ability to offer Super Cruise on some of the equipped vehicles.

"We continue to work through the chip shortage," said Mario Maiorana, Super Cruise chief engineer. "We continue to balance the usage across our products ... the customer has the option of buying with or without Super Cruise but yes, there are challenges there that we continue to manage."

Pricing for the Super Cruise option varies by brand. For Cadillacs, the technology is priced at $2,500. It's available on: 2021-2023 Escalade, 2023 Escalade-V, select 2021-2023 CT4, CT4-V, CT5 and CT5-V, 2022-2023 XT6 and the 2023 Lyriq. 

Super Cruise is also offered on the 2022 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 High Country, 2023 Chevrolet Bolt EUV Premier and Redline trim levels only for $2,200. 

The self-driving technology is also offered on the the 2022 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali and comes standard on the 2022 Sierra 1500 Denali Ultimate. The cost is included in content packages, GM said.

Super Cruise uses precision LiDAR map data, real-time cameras, radars and GPS for the hands-free driving experience. The system will accelerate and brake, it steers to maintain lane position, and on certain models, can perform lane changes. 

GM's expansion of the automated driving system comes as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has expanded a probe into Tesla Inc. for its Autopilot driver-assistance technology after several crashes. 

"We're always working with NHTSA. We talked to them about these types of expansions," Maiorana said. "We talked to them about our strategy with respect to driver attention, so we're having regular conversation with them. We'd like to have an open relationship there and discuss these types of significant changes."

GM's Super Cruise monitors drivers closely to make sure they can grab the wheel when necessary. The driver attention system is "very key" to safety, Maiorana said.

"We believe that is the linchpin of safety for our system in that we are ensuring the driver is always attentive and aware because there's situations that can be thrown at you at any point in time," he said. 

Sam Abuelsamid, principal analyst at Guidehouse Insights, sees Super Cruise as "the best system on the market today out of everything I've tried so far. It does a better job of keeping the vehicle steady in the center of the lane."

And the Super Cruise driver monitoring system is "more capable and robust." But he's not totally convinced that hands-free driving systems are a good idea because drivers can still get "complacent and not pay enough attention," he said.

"GM does a pretty good job of that with the driver monitoring system. But when you have to continue watching the road ... I'm not convinced that it's actually more relaxing."