Google Hires Krafcik To Head Autonomous Vehicle Program

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon
google hires krafcik to head autonomous vehicle program

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

Join the conversation
8 of 25 comments
  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Sep 14, 2015

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

    • Wmba Wmba on Sep 14, 2015

      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.

  • Master Baiter Master Baiter on Sep 14, 2015

    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?

    • See 2 previous
    • Toad Toad on Sep 15, 2015

      @Master Baiter Google has figured out how to (quickly) build a market cap of $439 billion dollars by being a pioneer. Other than creating the worlds most popular search engine, phone operating systems, mapping system, advertising platform, etc...what do they know about pioneering?

  • Dan R Dan R on Sep 14, 2015

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

  • JSF22 JSF22 on Sep 14, 2015

    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.