SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Google’s autonomous car division will be headed up by TrueCar President John Krafcik starting Sept. 15, an announcement that caused TrueCar’s stock to fall 5.3% on Monday.
Krafcik’s departure comes on the heels of news that the car-shopping site’s founder, Scott Painter, will vacate his CEO position by the end of the year. Like Painter, Krafcik will remain on TrueCar’s board of directors.
“John’s tireless efforts these past 18 months have been a tremendous benefit for TrueCar, and his influence will continue to be felt in the months ahead as programs he initiated come to fruition,” said Chris Claus, TrueCar lead independent director, in a statement posted on the company’s website.
Krafcik, who previously served as president and CEO of Hyundai Motors America, was named president of TrueCar in May 2014. While the executive boosted Hyundai’s U.S. market share by more than 50% during his five-year tenure, the OEM declined to renew his contract at the end of 2013.
Krafcik will be the first CEO for Google’s self-driving car project, which started putting prototypes on the road in Mountain View, Calif., this summer.
"We’re feeling good about our progress, so now we’re investing in building out a team that can help us bring this technology to its full potential in the coming years," said a Google spokesperson in an emailed statement to F&I and Showroom. "...John’s combination of technical expertise and auto industry experience will be particularly valuable as we collaborate with many different partners to achieve our goal of transforming mobility for millions of people."
The self-driving car project has logged more than one million miles on public roads, according to the company. Google officials hope to launch pilot programs using vehicle prototypes in the near future.
“This is a great opportunity to help Google develop the enormous potential of self-driving cars," Krafcik said in a statement provided by Google. "This technology can save thousands of lives, give millions of people greater mobility, and free us from a lot of the things we find frustrating about driving today. I can’t wait to get started.”
Krafcik has been with TrueCar through multiple hurdles in the past few months, including a second quarter loss of $14.7 million and the end of its relationship with dealer giant AutoNation over a data-sharing dispute.
“[Krafcik] helped improve a car company while at Hyundai and worked to improve car-buying for dealers and consumers at TrueCar,” said Claus, who is currently heading up TrueCar’s search for a new CEO. “We thank him for his service as president and are pleased that we’ll continue to work with him as a member of our board.”
The company also announced that CFO Mike Guthrie will take on the additional role of interim COO, with responsibility for running the day-to-day operations of the business.