One week Google executives say the company is moving toward mass producing its autonomous electric car, and the next a different representative is denying the idea.
In the latest installment of “Will Google Build Electric Cars?” the answer is a clear no.
“Google does not intend to become a car manufacturer,” said Philipp Justus, one of Google’s vice presidents. Regions under his management include Germany, Austria and eastern Europe.
While Google does still intend to become a part of the automotive industry, Justus indicated that the company won’t emerge as an individual carmaker.
“That is not something we could do alone,” Justus said.
However, this is directly at odds with other moves made by Google, including statements made days earlier by GoogleX Head of Policy Sarah Hunter.
“We haven’t decided yet how we’re going to bring this to market,” Hunter said of Google’s self-driving electric car. “Right now, our engineers are trying to figure out … how to make a car genuinely drive itself. Once we figure that out, we’ll figure out how to bring it to market and in which way. Is it something that we manufacture at scale for sale to individuals? Or is it something that we own and operate as a service?”
This month, Google also named John Krafcik as the CEO of its self-driving car project. Because it isn’t common to assign a project within a company its own CEO, the move may be a signal of Google’s intent to build cars.
“By hiring Krafcik, who studied mechanical engineering at Stanford University and business at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Google gains more than deep connections within the global auto industry,” stated Automotive News. “It also gains an executive with hands-on experience in product development and manufacturing, which could be particularly useful if Google decides to deploy self-driving cars at scale.”
Krafcik’s past credentials include serving as president of TrueCar since April 2014 and as the CEO of Hyundai Motor America for five years before that.
“This is a great opportunity to help Google develop the enormous potential of self-driving cars,” Krafcik told Automotive News. “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.”
Google representative Courtney Hohne revealed a little more about what hiring Krafcik means to the company.
“This is about getting ourselves ready for the future,” she said, adding that the self-driving car program “would be a good candidate at some point in the future to become” part of Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc., “but not yet.”