Hunt Ends: American Center for Mobility Names New CEO

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Following a nearly six-month search for new leadership, the American Center for Mobility (ACM) has named Reuben Sarkar as its new CEO. The Michigan-based facility has been without a chief executive since Michael Noblett left in November of 2019, leaving COO Mark Chaput in charge while the company hunted for a replacement.

It found one with Sarkar. He’s positioned to assume his new role at the historic site (Willow Run) that manufactured B-24 bombers in World War II before transitioning to GM vehicles and eventually the testing of autonomous cars, in early May. But this isn’t one of those cushy CEO positions where one can sit back and enjoy a sizable annual bonus. Intellectual property conflicts, legal hazards, and a longer-than-presumed development timelines have stagnated the self-driving industry. Mr. Sarkar is going to have his work cut out for him — though we’re sure he’ll still be well paid.

His predecessor only managed to stay aboard for nine months before abruptly leaving. While the grounds for Mr. Noblett’s departure are still unknown, it’s assumed the decision had something to do with ACM’s inability to drum up business. Chaput mentioned the site was having trouble competing in the months leading up to Noblett’s departure; the American Center for Mobility was known to have modified a sizable portion of upper-level management in 2018 — which included losing former CEO John Maddox to Lyft.

According to a press release, Sarkar’s first day on the job will be on May 4th. Meanwhile, Chaput will resume his primary duties as COO. It won’t be a bed of roses. Based on interviews with Automotive News, ACM officials say the current utilization rate of the facility is about 30 percent of its overall capacity.

While the pandemic has only made things more difficult, Sarkar’s previous employment at the U.S. Department of Energy could help strengthen ties between it and the American Center for Mobility. By his own admission, he believes he’s the man for the job.

“It is without a doubt ACM is positioned to make great strides for the mobility industry,” Sarkar said in a statement, “and having worked at a variety of organizations at all levels of the industry I believe I have the experience to help align the organization in a way that further propels ACM as the catalyst of mobility evolution and innovation.”

[Image: American Center for Mobility]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Apr 28, 2020

    His first order of business should be to hire a team of lawyers. The body of traffic laws, auto insurance companies, and personal injury attorneys are the biggest threat to autonomous vehicles.

  • Anthony Magagnoli Anthony Magagnoli on Apr 28, 2020

    If they can hang in there, I think the business will come from the growing number of startups and suppliers who don't have their own proving grounds. I was doing some work out there recently and, while parts of it are still rough, it has a lot of potential and the staff was very pleasant to work with.

  • SCE to AUX Now that's a bench seat!
  • 28-Cars-Later Seville - LS400Bhp 295 250Ft-tq 280 260Reliable No Yes
  • 28-Cars-Later No, and none of you should be either.
  • Arthur Dailey No.
  • Arthur Dailey My father had multiple Northstar equipped vehicles. He got one of the first Northstar equipped STS's in Canada and continually drove STS's on one year leases for nearly a decade. One of them did 'crap out' on him. It went into 'limp' mode and he drove it to the nearest GM dealer. The vehicle was about half way through its lease, and he was in cottage country (Muskoka). GM arranged to have it flatbedded back to Toronto. He rented a vehicle, drove it home and then took delivery of a new STS within about 4 days. There were no negotiations regarding repairs, etc. The vehicle was simply replaced. Overall he was pleased with the performance of these vehicles and their engines. We also found them a pleasant environment to be in, with more than enough power.