If there were any remaining question about whether Google plans to actually proceed to a full-scale commercial launch of its self-driving car at some point, a hire reported late last night by Automotive News seems to remove any doubt. It reports that Google has hired John Krafcik, former Hyundai CEO and a car industry veteran, to head up the program.
Krafcick refers in an email to the cars being used by “millions” of people.
“This is a great opportunity to help Google develop the enormous potential of self-driving cars,” Krafcik wrote in an email to Automotive News. “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.”
This was underlined by Google spokeswoman Courtney Hohne telling the site that while it is “still early days,” the move was about “getting ourselves ready for the future.” She said that the self-driving car is likely at some future point to be split off as its own Alphabet-owned company.
It has been suggested that Google is aiming to have the car on the market by 2020. The company has said on several occasions that it has no plans to manufacture the cars itself, but will partner with a number of different companies. Automotive News says that Krafcick is an ideal hire for this.
In Krafcik, Google gains a well-known and widely respected executive with ties across the global auto industry, which could help the tech company solidify relationships with suppliers and other partners as it seeks to scale up its effort.
Krafcick will leave his post as president of TrueCar to take up the position with Google sometime this month.
Photo: Tony Avelar/AP