Google has finally appointed a CEO to run its self-driving car project. Known auto world veteran John Krafcik will begin reporting at the company's headquarters in Mountain View later in September. He will be the company's first ever CEO of its six-year-old self-driving car venture.
Krafcik is currently the president and director of TrueCar, a company that provides car pricing services through less stressful negotiations between dealers and consumers. Prior to this, he was president and CEO of Hyundai Motor America, where he was credited with notable achievements, which include improved sales, brand opinion and net consideration.
Krafcik began his career in the auto industry in 1984, after earning a mechanical engineering degree at Stanford University. He also performed various roles at Ford Motor Company from 1990 to 2004.
"John's combination of technical expertise and auto industry experience will be particularly valuable as we collaborate with many different partners to achieve our goal of transforming mobility for millions of people," said Google. "This is about getting ourselves ready for the future, so we can bring this technology to its full potential."
Google seems to be making fast progress on the project. If things continue to go well, the company may be able to reach its aim of making its self-driving cars available to consumers within five years. Its lineup of autonomous vehicles include 25 Lexus SUVs and five prototypes. These vehicles are now running on public roads in Mountain View and also in Austin, Texas, and cover an average distance of 10,000 miles a week.
There is no indication, however, that Google will also consider making its own vehicles in the near future. The company will most likely develop a self-driving program that it will then allow other companies to use. This way, it doesn't have to deal with certain issues involved in making cars, such as the exorbitant entry costs and low margins.
Chris Urmson, for his part, will continue in his role as the technical chief of the self-driving car project. He will be reporting to Krafcik once the latter assumes his post.
"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," said Krafcik. "I can't wait to get started."