Whether or not Apple’s secretive auto project ever leads to an actual automobile, the technology company has already had a profound effect on the vehicle business.
With the auto world’s eyes transfixed on the glitzy-yet- conservative new products being unveiled this week at the Frankfurt Motor Show, Google is sending the strongest sign yet that the real action in the industry is increasingly found in Silicon Valley.
Google’s self-driving cars prototypes are hitting the public roads, totalling to one million miles. When the tech companies roll out driverless cars, they likely will be self-driving taxis for urban areas.
And it’s Apple and Google that are driving that conversation, even though neither one of them is doing (much) of the talking.
The self-driving vehicle project now sits in “Google X”, a semi-secret research division making technological advancements.
“This is a great opportunity to help Google develop the enormous potential of self-driving cars”.
The manufacturers’ hope is that by offering some of Google’s promised life-saving advantages with this incremental improvement, they can create a kind of Counter- Reformation that keeps buyers firmly in the driver’s seat for years to come.
The main risk for carmakers is probably not so much that an Apple vehicle would destroy Mercedes-Benz or BMW the way the iPhone gutted Nokia, the Finnish company that was once the world’s largest maker of mobile phones. Rather the fear is that these carmakers will be turned into merely run-of-the-mill hardware manufacturers. But people aren’t talking about a vehicle maker when leaving the show.
“That is not something we could do alone”, Justus said, adding that Google’s partners included automotive suppliers Bosch and zf friedrichshafen. Instead they are all talking about Google and Apple’s auto ambitions. Regulators in Europe and the United States are demanding that cars emit less carbon dioxide, a culprit in global warming. For automakers, it’s mostly about money, according to the Times. Many might also argue it can be fallible in a technological fashion. Early in his career as a mechanical engineer he worked at a joint venture between Toyota and General Motors where he became a proponent of lean manufacturing. Electric cars account for a sliver of the market so far.
To stay ahead in the auto business, manufacturers find they need to be more nimble in order to react quickly to changes in the marketplace. And how that’s going to impact the industry.