Zetsche: Silicon Valley is Serious About Building Cars
Apple and Google cars are further along than previously thought.
It's no secret that companies like Google and Apple are getting into the car business, but Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche learned in a recent meeting with several Silicon Valley firms that those two tech giants are further along with their automotive projects than he had thought.
The chief of Mercedes-Benz' parent company met with around 70 Silicon Valley companies, including startups, reports Automotive News. The executive would not name the firms in the meeting, but said he was impressed with how far they've come on their own.
"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 in an interview with German weekly Welt am Sonntag.
"There were concrete talks. I will not say anything about the content. It was not just about the fact that there is an innovative spirit in the Valley. We know that already. We wanted to see what drives it, and all the things that can be created from it," Zetsche continued.
Mercedes has been at the forefront of self-driving technologies, having received an autonomous testing license from Nevada for its new 2017 E-Class. The company says that car only needs software tweaks to be fully autonomous. But with the introduction of rival systems like Tesla's Autopilot feature for the Model S, the German automaker's lead has begun to slip.
John Krafcik, Google Self-Driving Car Project CEO and former TrueCar boss, announced in Detroit earlier this month that the company is looking for partners in the auto industry. Meanwhile, Apple has been poaching talent within the industry and has been rumored to be working on a car of its own, though it has yet to officially confirm this.
It's unknown exactly what was discussed in those meetings, but clearly whatever it was left one of the industry's top execs impressed and perhaps a little worried.