By on September 14, 2015

John Krafcik With A Hyundai Sonata, MotorWeek Host John Davis, And The 2012 MotorWeek Award For Awesomeness

Former Hyundai America CEO and TrueCar president John Krafcik has been hired by Google to head the California tech giant’s autonomous vehicle program.

Per Automotive News, Krafcik will begin his new work as the program’s director in late September, while current director and former Carnegie Mellon University robotics researcher Chris Urmson will remain aboard to lead technical development.

Google representative Courtney Hohne said the autonomous technology is still in the early stages of development, with Krafcik’s hiring meant to help the program prepare for the future. Though Google nor parent company Alphabet have plans to make autonomous vehicles, the hiring move would allow the tech company to partner “with many different companies to bring this technology into the world safely.”

Krafcik’s move to Google comes on the heels of his departure from TrueCar, who was brought aboard by founder and CEO Scott Painter in 2014 to help turn around the car-shopping service’s fortunes, fortunes which have turned for the worse once more amid lawsuits by dealers over the company’s business practices. Painter himself announced last month under poor Q2 2015 news he would resign as CEO.

Whether Krafcik was in the running to replace Painter is unknown at the moment, but the former president said he was looking forward to his new position with Google:

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 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.

Photo credit: Hyundai

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25 Comments on “Google Hires Krafcik To Head Autonomous Vehicle Program...”

  • avatar

    Cameron, are you working here again now (regularly)? If so, welcome back!

    Also, the Sonata Hybrid is a ridiculous hot mess, and will be made fun of by future generations.

  • avatar

    If I can’t get ibnto the backseat of a car stone-drunk and tell it to “DRIVE HOME” – pass out, go to sleep and wake up “home” THEN IT ISN’T AUTONOMOUS.

    Insurance companies are NEVER going to let that happen.

    State governments will NEVER let that happen.

    Technically, an autonomous car “can’t” commit a crime. It can’t speed. The police would have NO REASON to stop me.

    You think the cops would give up the ability to do “random stops” of minorities in $50,000 to $110,000 cars? I doubt it.

    You think the government would give up the revenue they collect ripping us off for points and speeding?

    Face it: this system is designed around FAILURE rather than success. Not easy to jail me for something if my car obeys all the laws.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Because of my whiteness, I can’t (by definition) share your minority point of view.

      However, I really doubt the revenue generation of unjust police stops of minorities is a consideration when it comes to autonomous vehicles.

      But I do agree that the insurance implications of autonomous cars is a BIG unsettled question. As liability shifts toward the machines, I see the mfrs backing away from producing them.

      • 0 avatar

        My sister is a Criminal Defense Attorney.

        If only you knew how much revenue they generate with just the stops. Chances are they’ll get you on something.

        My sister pulls $100,000 a year easy. If that’s her salary, I know the Judge is killing it. The prosecutor, the court authorities, the stenographer…

        More money in failure.

    • 0 avatar

      Insurance companies *want* it to happen, because they don’t want to pay the claim that results from you drunkenly ramming your Hellcat into a CR-V carrying a family of four.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m curious how this will play out i’m not sure insurance companies want wholesale adoption of autonomous cars. It would hurt their business model. You need some isk. In truly autonomy cars the auto builder has liability add in consolidation and your business base shrinks. You may still have insurance for when a tree branch hits your car but what will tha be 50$ a year? Do insurance companies want safer cars? Yes. Do they want less premium? No. Plus don’t discount the auto body lobby. They are very powerful in many states including Cali.

        Plus this will scare the major automakers lawyers to no end.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I don’t know, but I think Mr Krafcik’s career is heading in the wrong direction.

    • 0 avatar

      I tend to agree.

      Hyundai is a funny company currently selling globally at 2.8% down from last year. The bosses are firmly of the “nasty” variety and would make Trump blush when it comes to firing people. Why they let Krafcik go is unknown but patently stupid, as usual.

      Truecar: well if Krafcik is jumping ship just when he seemed to be really getting going, then avoid using its srvices. He knows more about that company than anyone else.

      Google’s getting a decent employee although quite what he brings to their table is unclear to me. At least they’re not going bankrupt next week, so it is a steady paycheck and gives the man time to do some long-term thinking rather than patching leaky holes all the time.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    It’s high entertainment to watch Google flush money down the toilet on one boondoggle after another. Like most of their other ventures, they’ll pull the plug when they realize there’s no money in it.

    What’s the end game for Google? You have to watch an ad for Viagra before your self driving car will commence taking you to your destination?

  • avatar
    Dan R

    Google cars are now in their money losing, window dressing division.

  • avatar

    I doubt Google will build a car (dal20402’s guess about software licensing makes a lot more sense), and if they do I doubt Krafcik’s the guy who can sell it, but it sure will be a better gig for him than pushing Hyundais and accepting BS awards from a shill like John Davis as in the photo, or continuing to ride TrueCar downhill.

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