John Krafcik

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John Krafcik
John Krafcik 2018.png
John Krafcik, 2018
Born (1961-09-18) September 18, 1961 (age 57)
Alma materStanford University
MIT Sloan School of Management
OccupationCEO of Waymo

John Krafcik (born September 18, 1961) is the CEO of Waymo. Krafcik was the former president of True Car Inc. and president and CEO of Hyundai Motor America. He was named CEO of Google's self-driving car project in September 2015.[1] Krafcik remained CEO after Google separated its self-driving car project and transitioned it into a new company called Waymo, housed under Google's parent company Alphabet Inc.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Krafcik grew up in Southington, Connecticut.[3] He studied mechanical engineering at Stanford University, where he graduated in 1983.[3] He received his master's degree in management from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1988, where he studied under James P. Womack.[3][4]


Krafcik worked in traditional automotive manufacturing for several decades before moving to Google's self-driving car project in 2015.[5] His first job was at New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc., a joint venture between General Motors and Toyota, as a quality and manufacturing engineer from 1984 to 1986.[6] He worked in the International Motor Vehicle Program at MIT as a lean production researcher and consultant from 1986 to 1990.[7] During this time, Krafcik traveled and studied 90 manufacturing plants in 20 countries, comparing their productivity and quality.[8] His studies formed the data behind Womack's book, The Machine That Changed the World.[8] The book was a study on "lean production", a term Krafcik coined.[9] In 1990, Krafcik moved to Ford Motor Company where he held several positions, including chief engineer for the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator in the late 1990s and early 2000s and the chief engineer for truck chassis engineering.[3][5]

Krafcik started at Hyundai Motor America as vice president for product development and strategic planning in 2004.[3][8][10] Within a few years he was promoted to become the president and CEO of Hyundai Motor America until the end of 2013.[3] During Krafcik's tenure, Hyundai reported record sales[11] and increased U.S. market share.[8] Following the financial crisis of 2007–2008, Krafcik oversaw a group at Hyundai to create an "Assurance Program".[12] The program allowed Americans to return their new cars if they lost their jobs within a year.[12]

Krafcik moved to become president of True Car, Inc. in 2014 and served as a director of the company's board.[13][14]

Google hired Krafcik to head its self-driving cars unit in September 2015, as the company struggled to build relationships in the Motor City.[1][15]

In 2018, Krafcik was awarded Smithsonian Magazine's American Ingenuity Award for Technology alongside Dmitri Dolgov.[16]


In December 2016, more than a year after Krafcik joined Google, the company's self-driving car project was spun off as its own company, Waymo, a subsidiary of Google parent Alphabet, and Krafcik became its CEO.[17] In 2017 and 2018, under Krafcik, Waymo struck partnerships with Lyft, Fiat Chrysler, and Jaguar Land Rover.[9][18] Krafcik initiated talks with Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne.[15] Two months later, the two announced a deal to integrate Waymo hardware into Fiat Chrysler minivans.[15] Krafcik also made a deal with Avis Budget Group to maintain its growing fleet.[15]

As CEO, Krafcik leads Waymo's efforts to commercialize the company's autonomous technology.[12] These include ride sharing, trucking, urban last-mile solutions and passenger cars.[12][19][20] Krafcik also pursued licensing Waymo's technology to vehicle manufacturers and has deployed the largest fleet of self-driving cars.[15] Krafcik has told auto makers that Waymo's goal is to make better drivers, not cars.[15]


  1. ^ a b Drew Olanoff (14 September 2015). "Google Names John Krafcik Its Self-Driving Car Project CEO". TechCrunch. Retrieved 17 May 2018.
  2. ^ McFarland, Matt. "Google launches Waymo and moves closer to self-driving cars". CNNMoney. Retrieved 2017-12-17.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Undercoffler, David (7 June 2014). "How I Made It: John Krafcik". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 12 June 2018.
  4. ^ Gary S. Vasilash (12 January 2005). "From NUMMI to MIT to Ford to Hyundai: John Krafcik". Automotive Design & Production. Retrieved 12 June 2018.
  5. ^ a b Laura Putre (1 February 2016). "John Krafcik on Google's partnership plans with OEMs and why the 'Koala Car' doesn't look more like an 800-horsepower Mustang". IndustryWeek. Retrieved 12 June 2018.
  6. ^ "Google hires TrueCar president to head self-driving car project". Fortune. Retrieved 2017-12-17.
  7. ^ Thomas A. Kochan, Russell D. Lansbury, John Paul Macduffie (1997). After Lean Production: Evolving Employment Practices in the World Auto Industry. Cornell University Press. p. 9. ISBN 9780801484131. Retrieved 12 June 2018.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  8. ^ a b c d Sally Atwood Hamilton (25 April 2012). "Destined to Drive". MIT Technology Review. Retrieved 12 June 2018.
  9. ^ a b Bergen, Mark; Naughton, Keith (2 April 2018). "Waymo isn't going to slow down now". Bloomberg. Retrieved 12 June 2018.
  10. ^ "How I Made It: John Krafcik - LA Times". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 16 December 2016.
  11. ^ Tucker, Geri Coleman (1 March 2013). "Hyundai sales up, Kia off vs. a year ago". USA Today. Retrieved 12 June 2018.
  12. ^ a b c d Barr, Alistair; Ramsey, Mike (13 September 2015). "Google Brings in Chief for Self-Driving Cars". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 13 June 2018.
  13. ^ Korosec, Kirsten (14 September 2015). "Google hires TrueCar president to head self-driving car project". Fortune. Retrieved 12 June 2018.
  14. ^ Fleming, Charles (14 September 2015). "Google hires TrueCar executive to run autonomous-car division". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 13 June 2018.
  15. ^ a b c d e f Higgins, Tim (11 September 2017). "Google Plots to Conquer Self-Driving Cars—by Making Peace With Detroit". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 13 June 2018.
  16. ^ "2018 American Ingenuity Award Winners". Smithsonian Magazine. Smithsonian. Retrieved 31 October 2018.
  17. ^ Reese, Hope. "Waymo (formerly Google's Self-Driving Car Project): The smart person's guide". TechRepublic. Retrieved 2017-12-17.
  18. ^ "Waymo's John Krafcik has the answers to your self-driving car questions". Recode. Retrieved 2017-12-30.
  19. ^ della Cava, Marco (31 October 2017). "Waymo shows off the secret facility where it trains self-driving cars". USA Today. Retrieved 13 June 2018.
  20. ^ Alex Davies (13 March 2018). "Waymo takes the final step before launching its self-driving car service". Wired. Retrieved 13 June 2018.

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