Google hired Ford and Hyundai veteran John Krafcik to head its self-driving car project. German car makers have been hiring outside software experts. Fred Katayama reports.
Google is putting a new executive in the driver's seat for its autonomous car project. The Internet giant named Ford and Hyundai veteran John Krafcik CEO of that unit. It can get manufacturing expertise from Krafcik, who is currently president of the auto pricing service, Truecar. Chris Urmson, who currently runs the program, will remain with the project as its technical chief. Over in Germany, automakers have been doing the reverse: going outside to get software experts so they can take on the likes of Google and Uber. Just last month, BMW, Audi and Mercedes teamed up to buy Nokia's maps business, Nokia Here. And last year, Daimler bought the German taxi hailing app mytaxi and the U.S. app RideScout that provides users info on public and private transportation options. CEO Malcolm Earp of the auto recruiting firm Magma People said, "What car companies are doing is hiring people generally from outside automotive. Some companies a few years ago didn't have a connected car department. They all have that now." Back in the U.S., sources say Apple has tried to poach auto industry execs in its quest to learn how to make self-driving electric cars.