John Krafcik, the chief executive of Alphabet’s autonomous-driving company, Waymo, is stepping down, the company announced Friday.
“After five and a half exhilarating years leading this team, I’ve decided to depart from my CEO role with Waymo and kick-off new adventures,” Krafcik said in a blog post.
Krafcik will be replaced by two current Waymo executives – COO Dmitri Dolgov and CTO Tekedra Mawakana – who will head the firm as co-CEOs, the company said. Krafcik will stay on as an advisor to the firm, and it was not immediately clear if he has plans to move to a new role outside the company.
Before heading up Waymo, Krafcik served as the CEO of Hyundai Motor North America and of car-buying website True Car.
Waymo, which was founded in 2009 as the Google Self-Driving Car Project, is working on autonomous-driving technology for future ride-hailing and delivery services. The system, Waymo Driver, has logged tens of millions of miles of driving on US roads and is considered by many to be the most advanced self-driving system in development.
UBS more than doubled its price target for Tesla on Tuesday, from $325 to $730, while keeping its neutral rating, citing the electric car maker’s emerging leadership in software.
“Tesla has the potential to become one of the most valuable software companies,” the team of analysts, led by Patrick Hummel, said in a note.”This is the next battleground and main driver of valuation from here, in our view.”
Tesla’s narrative, the analysts said, is no longer about winning in electric vehicles where it has already established market leadership, but rather in software.
They predict Tesla will become one of the largest and most profitable original equipment manufacturers globally by 2030, projecting an estimated $200 billion market value for that segment of its business.
“We think the lion’s share of this value can be generated by software, mainly autonomous driving,” UBS analysts said. “No other carmaker is closer to monetize fully autonomous driving for everyday use, and the scalability of Tesla’s technology creates the biggest software-driven revenue opportunity in the industry, in our view.”
The two companies are looking to combine their respective expertise to develop, test, and sell semi-trucks powered by Aurora’s autonomous-driving technology.
“Paccar looks forward to partnering with Aurora because of their industry-leading autonomous driving technology and impressive team,” Preston Feight, Paccar’s chief executive officer, said in a press release on Tuesday. “This strategic partnership complements Paccar’s best-in-class commercial vehicle quality, technology, and innovation.”
The Bellevue, Washington-based Paccar is a global leader in the design and manufacture of high-quality light, medium, and heavy-duty trucks. The company also provides its clientele with advanced powertrains, financial services, information technology, and distributes truck parts.
Aurora, meanwhile, has been in the self-driving technology game since 2017 when former Google autonomous-driving engineer Chris Urmson, former Tesla self-driving director Sterling Anderson, and Carnegie Mellon’s Drew Bagnell came together to create the company.
Since 2017 Aurora has been making moves in an attempt to create the first fleet of self-driving semis.
In December, Aurora acquired Uber’s self-driving unit giving up 26% equity to do so. The company then expanded testing on public roads in California, Pennsylvania, and Texas, focusing on long-haul, commercial trips.
Now, Aurora’s technology will be paired with the Peterbilt 579 and the Kenworth T680 semi-trucks at Paccar.
Despite the bullish news, PACCAR and Aurora will face stiff competition going forward, and not just from the big names like Tesla.
Alphabet’s Waymo announced plans last year to develop semi-trucks with Daimler, and self-driving startup TuSimple announced it is joining forces with US truck manufacturer Navistar to create driverless big rigs by 2024.
The news of a strategic partnership with Aurora should be cheered by Paccar shareholders. The company’s revenue has taken a hit recently, falling some 24% year-over-year in the third quarter, according to its latest SEC filings.
Additionally, Paccar earned just $2.57 per share for the nine months that ended September 30, 2020, versus $5.34 per share during the same period in 2019.
Paccar currently trades around $92 per share and holds a $30 billion market cap.
The company boasts 10 “buy” ratings, 14 “neutral” ratings, and six “sell” ratings from analysts.