Its cars log roughly 10,000 miles a week in autonomous driving mode, with trained drivers sitting behind the wheel.
John Krafcik is now the president of online auto shopping portal TrueCar Inc and in the past had served as the CEO of Hyundai as well as Chief Engineer at Ford where he was for 14 years also serving in various product development leadership positions. Google’s board of directors that includes former Ford CEO Alan Mulally.
The WSJ describes Krafcik as the “CEO”, but the self-driving auto project is not (yet) a company under the newly formed Google parent company “Alphabet”.
“We still have a lot to learn about how people perceive our vehicles and how they’ll want to fit this technology into their lives and their communities”, said Google spokeswoman Courtney Hohne in an email. “I can’t wait to get started”, he said in another.
According to Fortune, Krafcik’s hire “illustrates Google’s need to find someone with the technical and auto industry expertise” that can eventually expand Google’s self-driving cars from a “project” into a “business”.
It’s no cross-country trek, but these tests do prove just how serious the company is about getting these driverless cars ready for mass production.
For now, the project will remain part of the Google X research division. After the 2008 financial crisis, he oversaw the team that created an “Assurance Program” that let Americans return cars if they lost a job within a year after purchase, helping the company gain sales in a plunging market.
Many automakers have developed semiautonomous cars; few are actively pursuing fully autonomous as a solution in the near term. The appointment of Krafcik may imply that Google’s self-driving vehicle may be close to being on sale considering that he was responsible for pushing Hyundai sales in the United States. The internet company is making the prototypes in Livonia. Google is moving from equipping conventional cars for testing to designing and building its own fleet of driverless cars for evaluation.
By hiring him, Google is sending a message that it’s critical concerning the enterprise aspect of autonomous automobiles and eager to work intently with the auto industry to commercialize the know-how.
Krafcik is a Stanford-trained mechanical engineer who also has a business degree.