Tesla’s Getting More Competition in Self-Driving Cars – Barron’s
Few areas in technology have as much promise, and as many competitors, as self-driving cars. Although Tesla, Uber, and Alphabet are probably the best-known players, General Motors and Ford made it clear last week that they’ll likely be major competitors in the field.
GM has already flexed its self-driving muscles, announcing during its earnings call last week that it is testing more than 40 self-driving Chevy Bolt electric vehicles on the roads. The company also says it expects to be the first major manufacturer to make autonomous vehicles in mass production assembly plant. GM also paid 1 billion for car-tech firm Cruise Automation and has invested in Uber-rival Lyft.
Ford has also made investments, but had been more under the radar — until now. The company made it clear last week that it’s also planning to compete more aggressively, announcing a $1 billion investment in a startup called Argo AI. Ford will become Argo’s majority owner, but Argo will operate independently and have its own board. The startup, just formed in December, was founded by veterans of Google and Uber. Ford wants to deliver an autonomous vehicle by 2021.
Tesla is arguably ahead of the game, given that the company announced last October that all of its cars will now have the hardware necessary to become autonomous vehicles. Still, the more companies that enter the field, the more competition there will be for top talent and the more each company will have to compete on price.
Big Picture: Ford and GM are investing heavily in self-driving cars, which could put pressures on market leaders like Tesla.