Bridging the Cultural Gap
Krafcik, previously a high-ranking executive Ford and at Hyundai Motor Co. Ltd. (HYMLY), and later the president of car buying online platform TrueCar Inc. (TRUE), is making headway in bridging a yawning cultural gap between Silicon Valley and Detroit, the Journal indicates. Rather than isolating himself in a cushy corner office, like a traditional auto executive, he has a desk among software engineers at Waymo, and is working hard to instill enthusiasm about manufacturing processes among them.
Meanwhile, Krafcik’s also been trying to allay fears among auto manufacturers about being turned into mere commodity producers, with tech companies like Waymo angling to provide the real value added. Indeed, a few years ago the Dodge division of now-partner Fiat Chrysler ran a TV ad that scoffed at the idea of self-driving cars from “a search engine company,” the Journal says. Among the options being considered by Krafcik, per the Journal, is licensing Waymo’s technology to auto manufacturers.
Waymo Speeds Ahead
While competitors may be thinking of specific applications for their own self-driving technologies, Waymo is looking at developing theirs for a broad range of uses, including ride-hailing, freight delivery and public transport, the Journal indicates. Another key factor in building Waymo’s technological lead has been Alphabet’s aggressiveness in testing self-driving vehicles on public roads with real customers, while traditional auto manufacturers like GM were reluctant to venture beyond the test track. At one time, Alphabet allegedly even considered acquiring cutting-edge electric car maker Tesla, the Journal says.
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