Google just hired a man who’s worked in the automotive industry for 25 years, John Krafcik, to lead the company’s self-driving vehicle project as Google Auto’s CEO. This hire is big. Why? Because it’s the first major hire from the automaker side of the road.
Picking Krafcik to lead Google Auto is a sign that Google may be preparing to push the driverless car project outside the Google X safety bubble eventually. There have been other signs too, like the aggressive testing Google’s done on the streets of California. Plus the project was recently given the green light to test in Texas.
It’s no cross-country trek, but these tests do prove just how serious the company is about getting these driverless cars ready for mass production. It’s still not clear whether or not Google will be doing the actual producing, but the company is setting up an infrastructure to lead its experiment into the realm of a real company: Krafcik used to be the CEO for Hyundai Motor America and was with Ford before that. Currently he’s the president of a auto sales and pricing site called TrueCar. He’ll be joining the Google Auto later in September.
The company has said it doesn’t plan on taking its driverless cars out on their own anytime soon. But Krafcik’s hire definitely means the project now has the option to do so when the time is right.