Somewhere between a conversation on the future of retailing and the excitement over meeting a big investor for a lunch in Century City, John Krafcik has discovered something incongruous in the way the world works.
"Do you notice that as we talk about increased connectivity in the car, we are also talking about being less connected with the car?" Krafcik asks through a phone line. "Connectivity and autonomy. Sounds like those are at odds with each other, hey?"
He lets out a laugh and keeps rolling.
Welcome back, John Krafcik.
And so here is where we find the 52-year-old former Ford and Hyundai executive these days: Heading north at 11:30 a.m. on a Thursday morning, weaving his way in and out of Los Angeles traffic.
His left foot feels like it's going to fall off thanks to the clutch on his 8-year-old bright yellow Porsche 911.
The man whose MIT team helped research the landmark 1990 book The Machine That Changed The World (he invented the term "lean production") is guiding his own six-speed machine on the 405 freeway -- and his world feels a little different.
"I wish I would have bought the PDK [automatic] transmission in the Porsche," says Krafcik, who for five years found himself in factory cars courtesy of Hyundai. "I'm just not used to driving these kinds of cars anymore."
Catching up with Krafcik is a window into a world of many new things for the former Hyundai Motor America CEO -- a guy who has been so far off the radar the past four months you couldn't be blamed for forgetting his name.