Americans want tech firms, not automakers, to steer self-driving cars – CNBC (subscription)

Posted: Thursday, June 30, 2016

Americans overwhelmingly want to buy and ride in self-driving cars, but they do not want the “brains” of those vehicles to come from automakers, a new survey has found.

Automotive consulting firm AlixPartners surveyed more than 1,500 people between the ages of 18 and 65 and found that 73 percent would like a vehicle to do all of the driving. Yet when asked who they would trust more to program the car’s software, 41 percent chose the experts in Silicon Valley. That compares with 26 percent who selected Japanese automakers, and 17 percent who opted for Detroit’s Big Three.

When it comes to building these vehicles, however, respondents said they have the most trust in the three major U.S. automakers — Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler.

“People want the traditional automakers to be the brawn, building these cars, and they want tech firms to be the brains of the cars,” said Mark Wakefield, head of the Americas automotive practice at AlixPartners.

The distinction is important because automakers and tech firms, who are investing billions to develop self-driving cars, have resisted forming partnerships. That’s in part because they cannot agree on who will own the artificial intelligence, software and revenue streams coming from self-driving cars.

After Fiat Chrysler announced a partnership with Google to develop a test fleet of autonomous-drive minivans in May, FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne clarified that the deal was limited. When asked who would own the data collected by the self-driving vehicle, the executive said, “We need to get to a stage where the car is viable so we can discuss the spoils of that work. We’re not there.”

There have been rumors of other partnerships, but none have been announced.

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