By on April 27, 2020

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]

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