Published: March 09, 2016 | Mountain View, CA
Google is expanding and hiring more people with automotive industry expertise to make its driverless car project commercially viable, a Reuters report suggests. Although, Google doesn’t intend to manufacture vehicles on its own, it is more likely to contract out manufacturing – much like Apple does with iPhone – or to license technology to existing car manufacturers. Licensing would follow the model Google has used with its Android operating system for mobile devices.
The operation now employs at least 170 workers of which majority are software and systems engineers, and some come from other departments at Google. More than 40 of the employees listed on LinkedIn have previous automotive industry experience, with skills ranging from exterior design to manufacturing. They hail from a wide range of companies, including Tesla, Ford and General Motors.
Google’s team is being assembled by John Krafcik, an industry veteran who previously headed Hyundai’s U.S. operations and is an expert in product development and manufacturing. Krafcik joined Google in September 2015.
In the past four weeks, Google has advertised nearly 40 new positions on the team, and many are related to manufacturing. The team currently has six people with such experience, including purchasing, supplier development and supply chain management. Google is also engaged in discussions with federal and state regulators about how to revise motor vehicle safety standards to accommodate autonomous cars.
Another senior executive with previous automotive experience, Paul Luskin, was hired last month as operations manager, according to his Linkedin profile. An engineer with stints at Jaguar, Ford and Japanese supplier Denso, Luskin most recently was president of Ricardo Defense Systems. Google hired industry veteran Andy Warburton in July to head the vehicle engineering team, according to his Linkedin profile. Warburton spent two years as a senior engineering manager at Tesla and 16 years as an engineering manager at Jaguar. A third auto veteran, Sameer Kshisagar, joined Google in November as head of global supply management on the self-driving car team. Kshisagar is a manufacturing expert who previously worked for GM, according to his Linkedin profile.
Google’s self-driving car group also has tapped people with experience beyond the auto industry, including aerospace (Boeing, SpaceX, Jet Propulsion Lab) and electronics (Intel, Samsung, Motorola), according to LinkedIn profiles.