In social situations, general convention holds that, unless you want to incite a riot, certain topics remain off-limits: politics, religion, and — increasingly — one’s choice of technology. Vocal cords have been inflamed and dinners have been ripped asunder with invectives hurled at Android or epithets tossed towards Apple.
Bob Lutz is on record opining that Apple’s efforts in developing a car are “going to be a gigantic money pit” — and he’s probably right.
Here’s the thing though: Apple has a history of figuring out how to make big profits with products traditionally considered to be low margin. Add this to the fact that Apple is rich enough to spend huge bucks on developing a car, only to drop it all and walk away if they’re unhappy with the project.
Think they won’t?
General Motors wants you to have more texting time in your car, and it’s dropping a lot of cash to see that it happens.
The company announced Friday that it will purchase San Francisco-based Cruise Automation in order to access and advance its self-driving vehicle technology, a buy worth upwards of $1 billion, Fortune reports.
The three-year-old startup has been busy gathering investor capital to develop and push aftermarket kits designed to turn regular vehicles into autonomous cars. (Read More…)
It seems Sergio Marchionne may be switching teams when it comes to shacking up with another company to build cars of the future, reports Bloomberg.
At the Geneva International Motor Show, the self-confessed Apple geek said that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles would be well-suited to contract build a car designed in California.
“I would assume that we have the credibility to be one of the players they have looked at,” Marchionne said in Geneva. “There are parts of us that would be interesting for them.”
Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said a recent trip to Silicon Valley revealed that tech companies such as Google and Apple were making significant progress on autonomous cars, German newspaper Welt am Sonntag reported (via Reuters).
“Our impression was that these companies can do more and know more than we had previously assumed. At the same time they have more respect for our achievements than we thought,” Zetsche said, according to the report.
Zetsche said he and other managers from the automaker met with tech companies in Silicon Valley, but didn’t disclose what those companies were. (Read More…)
Hyundai is considering making its own computer chips for autonomous cars, which the company expects will be readily available by 2030, according to Bloomberg.
The South Korean automaker, which is already preparing its cars with semi-autonomous technology, says the technology could be vital to car making in the future. Hyundai buys its autonomous driving-related technology from a supplier, but the director of the automaker’s automotive control system development group didn’t specify the company from which Hyundai buys the technology hardware.
Hyundai’s announcement could be competition for Silicon Valley giants such as Google and Apple that are developing autonomous driving technologies to be licenced (Google) or possibly their own cars (Apple). Hyundai developing its own chips could be a way to keep the automaker from becoming merely a sheet metal provider to autonomous car technology makers.
Maxed out of selling you a new phone every 15 minutes, chipmakers such as Nvidia and Intel are looking to break into the automotive business as the next new lucrative frontier for technology, Reuters reported.
Established automotive suppliers such as Infineon, Renesas and NXP may be figurative feet in the doors for other tech makers to exploit a growing car boom and tech cycle.
“A decade ago, autos was not sexy. Now it is,” Reinhard Ploss, chief executive of Infineon said, according to Reuters.
In wonderful Bob Lutz fashion, the former General Motors head told entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley that making cars is hard.
“I think, like so many Silicon Valley techies, that they believe they are smarter than the world’s automobile business, and that they will do it better,” Lutz told The Associated Press. “No way.”
His argument, in a Readers Digest version: Cars are more dangerous than Walkmen and when you make things that can explode it costs money so beat it, nerds.
Speaking Wednesday at the 10th annual J.D Power Automotive Marketing Roundtable in Las Vegas, Cadillac CEO Johan de Nysschen didn’t mince words regarding Silicon Valley’s infatuation with fully autonomous driving.
The luxury brand chief, while standing before an image of Google’s autonomous prototype, said: “Many autonomous car (prototypes) emphasize sheer functionality. It would be a mind-numbing experience going from point A to B. My goodness, you might as well take the bus.”
De Nysschen said Cadillac’s upcoming Super Cruise strikes a balance between fully autonomous driving and driving yourself.
John Martin, Nissan North America’s senior vice president of manufacturing and supply chain management, had some harsh words for Tesla on Friday. According to him, Uber — not Tesla — is the real disruptor, and what Tesla is doing now is relatively easy, Automotive News reported.
“Lot’s of people are calling Tesla a disrupter. They are not,” he said while arguing that building a performance vehicle that’s priced over $100,000 is much easier than manufacturing an electric car for under $30,000.
And what about Apple and Google? Martin doesn’t foresee either of them getting into the auto manufacturing business anytime soon.
Apple will formalize what kind of car it may produce (or have already produced) by 2019, the Wall Street Journal reported.
According to the report, the Cupertino, California-based company has labeled the car a “committed project” but stopped short of saying that the car would be delivered to consumers by 2019. The report only indicates that the car could be ready for consumers, finalized or conceptualized by engineers by 2019.
If all this seems vague, consider that most of the project’s executives have essentially vanished into witness relocation after joining Apple to work on the car.