On Sunday night, Google released the news that they have made their very first major hire from the automobile industry. They needed a chief executive for their self-driving project. The person who got hired was John Krafcik, a person who had worked within the US automobile industry for 25 years. Krafcik had served a 14-year stint with Ford in the product development department and has served as a CEO of Hyundai from 2008 to 2013. He is currently the president of TrueCar which is an online platform for people to buys cars from. He will start working at Google before the end of this month.
Krafcik has made a statement saying, “This is a great opportunity to help Google develop the enormous potential of self-driving cars. This technology can save thousands of lives, give millions greater mobility and free us from a lot of the things we find frustrating about driving today. I can’t wait to be started.”
Although Chris Urmson is currently serving as the director of the of the project, Krafcik will be given a completely new position as a CEO and Urmson would continue to be its technical director. Even though the project has a CEO, it will still remain within the Google X lab at this present time. As of now, a Google spokesperson said that the project would not be upgraded to an Alphabet company at this stage, but after a few years down the road, it would be considered as a potential candidate in the future.
Karafcik’s hire comes at a time when Google is becoming more purposeful than ever to develop its ideas and turn them into reality. As of this time, its self-driving cars were able to be driven on roads in California and managed to get permission to conduct tests in the state of Texas.
As Google develops its self-driving cars, it is inevitably going to clash with the interests of other automobile companies who also have self-driving programs of their own. Most of their programs are less advanced than the one of Google’s. As of now, some car companies feeling rather uneasy as tech companies like Google slowly invade their former stratum of expertise. Some companies are particularly worried about Google’s new in-car software, Android Auto. Toyota is actively resisting this by partnering with Stanford and MIT to create a self-driving program. Google has tried to allay these fears by publicly stating that it only intends to partner with manufacturers to share the software, not produce the cars themselves.