DETROIT -- Alan Mulally, who retired as Ford Motor Co.'s CEO on June 30, has joined the board of directors of technology and Web search giant Google.
The move comes as Google develops a self-driving car and tries to get its software into more automobiles.
Mulally's appointment was effective July 9 and he will serve on the company's audit committee, Google said Tuesday.
“Alan brings a wealth of proven business and technology leadership experience,” Google CEO Larry Page said in a statement. “I am so pleased that Alan is now joining Google’s board!”
Mulally's appointment comes as Google expands a program to develop autonomous light vehicles. Also, Google last month said it has also developed an in-vehicle operating system -- Android Auto -- for light vehicles.
“I am honored to serve on the board of a global iconic company that is dedicated to enhancing our lives,” Mulally said in a statement.
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.
“This is really an inspired move,” said Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, associate dean of the Yale University School of Management. “Mulally has a great deal to bring to Google. He’s an engineer’s engineer who has a great feel for consumer product innovation. This is a way to let us know that there’s no limit to the scope and scale of where Google is going.”
Mulally, 68, could evolve into a lead director on Google’s board, Sonnenfeld added. Prior to Mulally’s appointment, Google had 12 board members.
“He works very well in teams and groups,” said Sonnenfeld, who has seen the former Ford CEO work with other business leaders. “He brings an ‘aw-shucks’ lack of ego and grandiosity to group problem-solving in a way that’s pretty inspiring.”
Mulally, recruited from Boeing Corp., served as president and CEO of Ford from Sept. 2006 through June.
He is widely credited for leading the automaker's comeback after a severe recession from Dec. 2007 through June 2009. He was also rumored to be a candidate to lead Microsoft until the appointment of Satya Nadella as CEO in February.
Google unveiled plans on May 27 to deploy at least 100 fully autonomous vehicles that it designed in trials starting this year.
The two-seat cars will have a top speed of 25 miles (40km) per hour and no steering wheel, brake or accelerator pedals. Google had tested its technology in other cars, such as Toyota Motor Corp.’s Prius, for several years.
Other automakers, including Ford, are investing heavily in research and development of autonomous cars, which could help reduce traffic congestion and fatalities as more people migrate to urban centers.
“Mulally is fantastic on innovation,” Sonnenfeld said. “He’s very good at finding the positive windows for change. He can be a forceful, but always friendly advocate.”
President Barack Obama on Tuesday championed spending on research on cars that can talk to each other to help manage traffic flow. He also took a test-drive in a simulator of a car equipped with such technology at the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center in McLean, Virginia.
Bloomberg and Reuters contributed to this report.