John Krafcik will give his first public address as CEO of Google's self-driving-car project at the Automotive News World Congress on Tuesday, Jan. 12.
Krafcik, 54, took the helm of the Google initiative in September from Chris Urmson, the former Carnegie Mellon University robotics researcher who remains the lead technical director. Krafcik's leadership is expected to help Google solidify its relationships with automotive suppliers and other partners as it seeks to scale up its effort.
Google, which launched its project in 2009, has signaled that it intends to introduce self-driving cars by 2020 and has been providing periodic updates on the progress of its test fleets in Mountain View, Calif., and Austin, Texas. As Bloom-berg reported last week, the program will become a stand-alone company under Google's new corporate umbrella.
Krafcik, who graduated from Stanford and started out as an engineer at NUMMI, the General Mot-ors-Toyota automaking joint venture in Fremont, Calif., returned to Silicon Valley after a career with several companies in the auto industry. He was a product-development engineer for trucks at Ford Motor Co., where he spent 14 years; a product-planning executive and later CEO of Hyundai Motor America, where he led the Korean brand through a period of rapid growth in the aftermath of the great recession; and president of TrueCar Inc., appointed just before the company's IPO.
At Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Krafcik was part of the team that coined the term "lean production."