After a five-month search, the American Center for Mobility has named Reuben Sarkar, a former U.S. Department of Energy official, as its new CEO.
Sarkar had been serving as chief product officer at Colorado startup Forge Nano. He joins the self-driving test facility based in southeast Michigan at a time when some widespread autonomous deployments are being delayed and some automakers are questioning their mobility-related projects.
Mark Chaput, COO of the center, had been serving as interim CEO following the November 2019 departure of Michael Noblett, whose tenure lasted only nine months. Chaput will retain his COO duties. The move is effective May 4.
Sarkar's immediate challenge will be increasing the utilization rate at the facility. Earlier this year, ACM officials said the utilization rate of the facility was about 30 percent of its overall capacity.
"Reuben's experience working with startups and navigating public policy serves as a strong foundation for his leadership at ACM as we make every effort to ensure Michigan remains the go-to state to build, test and deploy the vehicles and transportation systems of the future," Michigan Economic Development Corp. CEO Mark A. Burton said in a written statement.
The mobility center conducts projects for the Department of Energy, so Sarkar's ties to the department will strengthen that work. His work there as deputy assistant secretary for transportation included overseeing the agency's vehicle, bioenergy and hydrogen and fuel cell technology offices.
Previously, he worked at General Motors as the lead design release engineer on the first-generation Chevy Volt electric drive unit.
"Having worked at a variety of organizations at all levels of the industry, I believe I have the experience to help align the organization in a way that further propels ACM as the catalyst of mobility evolution and innovation."