Google's self-driving car project has a CEO. According to The Wall Street Journal, John Krafcik, the president of online car shopping site "TrueCar" will be heading the project. The former head of the self-driving car program, Chris Urmson, will lead the technical development of the project.
Krafcik sounds like he will fit in well at Google: he's a mechanical engineer with "a data-driven approach focusing on lean manufacturing" according to the WSJ. He was at Ford from 1990 to 2004 where he eventually became chief engineer for the Expedition and Navigator SUVs. After that, he moved to Hyundai Motor Co. for 10 years and spent the last five as CEO of the US business, which, by all accounts, was very successful.
A Google spokesperson told the WSJ, "We’re feeling good about our progress, so now we’re investing in building out a team that can help us bring this technology to its full potential. John’s combination of technical expertise and auto-industry experience will be particularly valuable as we collaborate with many different partners to achieve our goal.”
The official line from Google is that it still doesn't want to manufacture its own cars and is hoping to partner with an existing car company to commercialize the technology. Google only has a handful of the vehicles currently, and getting the technology down to a scalable, sellable product will be Krafcik's big challenge.
The WSJ describes Krafcik as the "CEO," but the self-driving car project is not (yet) a company under the newly formed Google parent company "Alphabet." With a real car company CEO, the group seems to be gearing up to become an official Alphabet subsidiary. Google apparently even hinted at the possibility, telling the WSJ that "The Google spokeswoman said the project is a good candidate to become an Alphabet company."