Google hires TrueCar executive to run autonomous-car division

Signaling ever more clearly its intention to put an autonomous vehicle on American roads, Google has hired veteran automobile executive John Krafcik to run its self-driving car division.

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Krafcik, currently president of the online car-shopping company TrueCar, was formerly a top officer of Ford and Hyundai, where he served as president and chief executive of the South Korean car company’s U.S. operations.  Starting Sept. 15, Krafcik will be CEO of Google’s nascent self-driving car division. He replaces Chris Urmson, who will remain in charge of development for the technical side of the autonomous-vehicle program.  “We’re investing in building out a team that can help us bring this technology to its full potential in the coming years,” said Google spokesperson Kara Berman. “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 of transforming mobility for millions of people.”  The company will not, however, begin building cars any time soon.   “We’re not going to manufacture cars,” Berman said. “We’re a long way from the sort of scale operation that we’d need to really bring self-driving cars to consumers in a meaningful way.”   The respected, tousle-haired Krafcik, who had been with TrueCar about 18 months, called the move “a great opportunity to help Google develop the enormous potential of self-driving cars,” and hailed the safety value of cars that will one day drive better without human input.

“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,” Krafcik said in a statement. “I can’t wait to get started.”

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