Alan Mulally joins Google as autonomous car manufacture gains pace

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Automotive lenders, both fleet and retail, are evaluating the significance of Alan Mulally’s recent appointment to the Board of Google Inc.

Mulally, a veteran corporate executive of the automotive and aviation industries is initially to serve on Google’s audit committee. His appointment was effective July 9, 2014.

Larry Page, CEO of Google said: “Alan brings a wealth of proven business and technology leadership experience. I am so pleased that Alan is now joining Google’s board!”

“I am honored to serve on the board of a global iconic company that is dedicated to enhancing our lives,” Mulally said. “I look forward to working together with the Google board and management team to continue to deliver their compelling vision.”

Mulally served as president and chief executive officer of Ford Motor Company from September 2006 to June 2014. He was previously a member of the board of directors of Ford and served on its finance committee from September 2006 through to June 2014.

He is widely credited with leading Ford’s comeback after the recession. He was also hotly tipped to be a candidate to lead Microsoft Corp. until the appointment of Satya Nadella as CEO in February.

Mulally’s appointment comes as Google expands a program to develop autonomous light vehicles. Also, last month the company revealed it had also developed an in-vehicle operating system, Android Auto, for light vehicles.

For the past four years, Google has been working on self-driving cars with a mechanism to return control of the steering wheel to the driver in case of emergency.

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However, the company has recently begun building a fleet of 100 experimental electric-powered vehicles that will dispense with all the standard controls found in modern automobiles.

Google has not confirmed that it intends to get into the car manufacturing business or simply supply technology to carmakers, but it says there are plenty of possibilities if it can persuade regulators to allow cars with no drivers. One reportedly potential use is driverless taxi cabs.

The new Google strategy for autonomous cars is a break from many competing vehicle projects. Mercedes, BMW and Volvo have introduced cars that have the ability to travel without driver intervention in limited circumstances — though none completely eliminate the driver.  

From March 2001 to September 2006, Mulally served as executive vice president of the Boeing Company and president and chief executive officer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Inc. He also was a member of the Boeing Executive Council. Prior to that time, he served as president of Boeing’s space and defense business.

Mulally also served as co-chair of the Washington Competitiveness Council and sat on the advisory boards of NASA, the University of Washington, the University of Kansas, the Massachusetts Institute Technology, and the US Air Force Scientific Advisory Board. He is a member of the US National Academy of Engineering and a fellow of the UK’s Royal Academy of Engineering.

He holds a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in aeronautical and astronautical engineering from the University of Kansas, and a Master’s degree in Management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a 1982 Alfred P. Sloan fellow.

He will receive an initial grant of $1 million in Google stock, an annual equity award of $350,000 with a $75,000 cash retainer and reimbursement of expenses, Google said in a regulatory filing.