Google appears to be accelerating its six-year-old autonomous car project, announcing Sunday that it has named auto-world veteran John Krafcik as the project's first CEO.
Krafcik, who before his recent post as president of consumer-focused pricing site TrueCar was CEO of Hyundai's U.S. operations, will begin working at the Mountain View company later this month. "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," Krafcik said in a statement. "I can't wait to get started."
Chris Urmson, the longstanding leader of Google's autonomous car program, will remain in charge as its technical chief. Urmson will report to Krafcik, whose background includes engineering roles at Ford between 1990 and 2004. He started in the auto industry in 1984, shortly after getting a mechanical engineering degree at Stanford University, when he began working at a former joint-venture plant owned by Toyota and General Motors.