Google Taps Hyundai Veteran As Self-Driving Car Division CEO - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
IT Life
News
9/14/2015
03:05 PM
50%
50%

Google Taps Hyundai Veteran As Self-Driving Car Division CEO

Google is looking to move its self-driving car project into more of a business mold by hiring auto industry veteran John Krafcik into its ranks.

New York Auto Show: Cool Cars With Hot Tech
New York Auto Show: Cool Cars With Hot Tech
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

In an executive move designed to move its self-driving car project from expensive hobbyhorse to potential money-making business, Google has tapped John Krafcik, a former Hyundai CEO and president, to lead its autonomous vehicle division.

Krafcik, a former Ford executive who recently served as the CEO of TruCar, an online car shopping service, confirmed that he had joined the company via a Twitter post this past weekend.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the project's former team leader, Chris Urmson, would now take control of technical development on the software and vehicle side.

"We're feeling good about our progress, so now we're investing in building out a team that can help us bring this technology to its full potential," a Google spokeswoman told the Journal. "John's combination of technical expertise and auto-industry experience will be particularly valuable as we collaborate with many different partners to achieve our goals."

On his LinkedIn profile, Krafcik lists his specialties as automotive industry sales and marketing, product strategy and production, brand definition and transformation, and retail strategies and processes.

The recipient of numerous awards from the auto industry, including Automotive Executive of the Year in 2013, Krafcik graduated from Standford University with a degree in mechanical engineering.

(Image: Google)

(Image: Google)

Krafcik also received a master's degree in management from MIT's Sloan School of Management.

"This is a great opportunity to help Google develop the enormous potential of self-driving cars," Krafcik wrote in an email statement from Google that was published in the The New York Times. "This technology can save thousands of lives, give millions of people greater mobility and free us from a lot of the things we find frustrating about driving today. I can't wait to get started."

In the next few weeks, Google's prototype vehicles will be out navigating the same area north and northeast of downtown Austin its Lexus cars have been driving by themselves for the last couple of months.

[Read about problems with Google's self-driving car.]

The company's fleet of more than 20 self-driving vehicles and its team of safety drivers have logged about 1.7 million miles -- both manually and autonomously. The cars have self-driven nearly a million of those miles. They now complete an average of around 10,000 self-driven miles a week.

While Google has been in the news more often recently for the expansion of the testing program for its self-driving vehicles, Apple has been making headlines for hiring a number of auto industry executives and engineers with expertise in autonomous vehicles for its own alleged self-driving car endeavor called Project Titan.

For instance, Doug Betts, a former global quality executive at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, joined Apple earlier this year.

More recently, Apple hired Jamie Carlson, a former senior engineer at electric car manufacturer Tesla Motors. Carlson is now listed as an employee of Apple under the heading special projects. Before joining Apple, Carlson worked as an engineer with Tesla's self-driving car project.

Nathan Eddy is a freelance writer for InformationWeek. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin. View Full Bio

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
InformationWeek Is Getting an Upgrade!

Find out more about our plans to improve the look, functionality, and performance of the InformationWeek site in the coming months.

News
Becoming a Self-Taught Cybersecurity Pro
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  6/9/2021
News
Ancestry's DevOps Strategy to Control Its CI/CD Pipeline
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  6/4/2021
Slideshows
IT Leadership: 10 Ways to Unleash Enterprise Innovation
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  6/8/2021
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
2021 State of ITOps and SecOps Report
2021 State of ITOps and SecOps Report
This new report from InformationWeek explores what we've learned over the past year, critical trends around ITOps and SecOps, and where leaders are focusing their time and efforts to support a growing digital economy. Download it today!
Video
Current Issue
Planning Your Digital Transformation Roadmap
Download this report to learn about the latest technologies and best practices or ensuring a successful transition from outdated business transformation tactics.
Slideshows
Flash Poll