By on February 16, 2015


Google may have the right stuff to shake up the auto industry, but Dr. Z doesn’t believe the tech giant will ever be an automaker in its own right.

Reuters reports Daimler AG CEO Dieter Zetsche said as much in a meeting with analysts last week, when he suggested Google focus its energy on learning how cars are used instead of entering the industry as an automaker itself.

Meanwhile, he also continued to press his concerns about data privacy, in light of automakers and tech companies growing closer together as vehicles become more connected to the Internet:

When we talk about high safety with Mercedes, it does not apply specifically for protection from accidents, but this means safety of their personal data as well. To be able to provide that, we have to keep control, and we can’t do that when it is collected by Google.

Daimler plans to control data reported by its cars, protecting it from autonomous and connected vehicles alike.

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14 Comments on “Zetsche: Google Better Off As Supplier Than As Automaker...”

  • avatar

    Privacy, what a concept. You mean we’re not all here to be data mined, marketed / sold / advertised to and spied on? I’d like to ram one of those Google Who mobiles with my ’76 F250. Dodge this.

  • avatar

    “Skip ad to continue driving” – That pretty much sums up how a new ‘provider’ may affect the car market, and therefor industry. The key in personal mobility is not the car itself, but the way we use transportation modes! For instance, automakers tend to incorporate driverless technology gradually, not to endanger their business model. Also for legislative reasons. With Google/Uber it is exactly the opposite. It sees the car for what it is: a transportation mode – to be integrated in its overall strategy of becoming a (perhaps even THE) main provider in personal mobility and connectivity, with car ownership and public transport in its (long-term) sights.

  • avatar

    Assuming Google sticks to roughly the same role they have in the past, they have no interest in being a primary manufacturer and do not require this lecture. They’d really just prefer to own the platform, feeding users into the rest of their services. They’ll produce some “model” hardware, but will leave bulk of sales to others. Manufacturing, distribution, and customer service is hard work that does not play to Google’s strengths.

    (For instance, the Nexus series of “reference” phones and tablets have always been produced by another company, and Google never really intended for Motorola to seriously compete (and notice how quickly they unloaded it after producing a few phones to “show ’em how it’s done”.)

    • 0 avatar

      Not a “primary manufacturer” (why would Google?), as long as it can choose with which automotive OEM it wants to work together… If car ownership is left out of the equation, the ‘Google car’ can be blueprinted for localized production, distribution and use.

    • 0 avatar

      Agree. My first thought when I read this was that they had no intention of becoming a manufacturer. It seems to me if they wanted Google cars, let’s call them “Google Editions,” they would partner with A) Toyota or B) Honda, and make certain special models with their technology, and sell them at the current existing dealership chains.

      Easier, more cost effective, less risk of failure, etc etc.

    • 0 avatar

      If history is any guide, Google will give away their (very good) software/operating system to anybody who wants to use it, just like they did with Android. This strategy will allow manufacturers to focus on building cars, not designing software.

      Google will make their money selling advertising and services based on the driver data, manufacturers will save billions in operating system R&D costs. It will be a win win for everybody involved.

      Of course, some automakers will be loathe to hand off the operating system profit potential, but based on buggy in car entertainment systems to date I think the smart manufacturers will stick to building cars vs. software.

      • 0 avatar

        >> some automakers will be loathe to hand off the operating system profit potential

        Yes, some resistance will come from the desire for market differentiation. BMW has the iDrive. Audi has their MMI scratch pad. Cadillac has CUE. And Acura has real buttons. Even if Google software can remain behind the scenes, car manufacturers won’t feel comfortable relying on just one vendor… as Ford has learned with Microsoft.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    ” …but this means safety of their personal data as well. To be able to provide that, WE HAVE TO KEEP CONTROL, and we can’t do that when it is collected by Google.”
    Capital letters are mine.

    What I read from that statement, is that Daimler want to keep that control, and the info and revenue generated from it, all for themselves.

  • avatar
    Lynn E.

    There are a few things we shouldn’t forget.
    1. Fleet operators want data. They want to know where their vehicles are, have been, and how they are being driven.
    2. Electric vehicles have a lot fewer moving parts, are easier to manufacture, simpler to maintain, are cleaner, quiet, and work well with computer controls and apps.
    3. Apple is definitely studying cars.
    So in 6 years or so will our cars, trucks, and MC be fully manufactured or operated as electric Apple iMovers or Android Movers?

  • avatar

    Isn’t it ironic? Most people think of George Orwell’s 1984 and Big Brother as something communist. Google knows there’s no such thing as free will, only big data.

  • avatar

    Apple vs Google rivalry continues. But note that Google was not able to make even viable mobile phone let alone car. It tried and quickly gave up with Motorola. So I am much more confident that rather Apple will make a car that people will line up to actually pay premium to buy. Even if Google make s a car it will most be actually mdae by Samsung. Samsung is already making cars, now it has to compete with Apple so they will adopt Google SW.

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