One of Ford Motor Co.’s top electrical engineers has left the automaker to help the ride-hailing company Uber pursue self-driving vehicles.
Uber said Thursday that it hired Sherif Marakby as vice president of global vehicle programs. Marakby, 50, most recently was Ford’s director of global electrical and electronic systems engineering.
“Self-driving technology is a hard challenge to solve with enormous potential to improve people’s lives,” Brian McClendon, Uber’s vice president of advanced technologies, said in a statement. “Sherif is a world expert and we’re excited to have him join the team.”
Marakby, who helped Ford become an industry leader in hybrids, will move from Detroit to Pittsburgh. He will report to McClendon, a high-ranking executive at Google before joining Uber last year.
“Over one million people die in car accidents every year -- in the U.S. it’s the most common cause of death amongst young people,” Marakby said in a statement explaining his decision. “Self-driving technology can help prevent these tragedies as well as improve the quality of life in cities. It’s one of the many reasons I am so excited to join Uber’s team in Pittsburgh.”
Marakby previously worked to develop Ford’s portfolio of hybrid and electrified vehicles before a stint in Europe. His move to Uber, which was reported earlier today by The Verge, comes as Ford works to transform itself into both an automaker and mobility-service provider to fend off challenges from Uber, Google and other Silicon Valley technology companies.
Ford confirmed that Marakby had left the automaker and said it wishes him well but declined to comment further.