Self Driving Car At Thinkery Austin

Nissan Doubtful Google Can Mass-Produce a Car

October 8, 2015 - Written By Fernando Bonilla

Nissan executive Maarten Sierhuis is not convinced Google has what it takes to build its own car. Instead, he thinks tech companies like the search giant are a better fit for making software to run on other manufacturers’ vehicles.

Sierhuis is an artificial intelligence specialist at Nissan. He is attempting to build autonomous cars for the automaker, seeking something similar to Google’s venture with its self-driving car. Despite sharing a comparable goal, Sierhuis remains uncertain that the tech company can successfully mass-produce cars.

The consumer electronics industry has been expanding its offerings, most recently with the push into wearables. It seems every smartphone maker is releasing its effort onto the market where traditionally only fashion designers tread. Though tech companies are hoping to make a path into the watch industry, established watch makers and apparel makers are wary of the possibility their classic takes on the watch may become less popular. Now that Google and possibly other software companies, like Uber, are seeking to enter the auto industry, companies like Nissan or Porsche may feel pressured by a similar possibility.

Nissan’s AI expert believes that Google is not fully appreciating how complex it is to create a car and establish mass production. At the Code/Mobile conference yesterday in California, Sierhuis said, “I don’t necessarily see a Google or an Uber developing their cars. It will be a different business for them and probably not a business that’s profitable.”

His opinion was shared by Chris Borroni-Bird, vice president of chip maker Qualcomm. Bird has General Motors on his resume, and he agrees that Google is probably set to provide software for cars than actually produce them. His argument has a valid foundation, given Google’s rising Android Auto platform which extends its mobile OS into a vehicle. Other companies, most notably Apple, are also attempting to provide software for cars. Driving in a car is probably the most mobile of all states, after all, so providing a seamless experience while in and out of it has created a buzz among the industry’s largest players.

Is Sierhuis correct in his evaluation of Google’s resources? Only time will tell, but it is possible that Google will indeed seriously enter the auto industry with a refined version of its self-driving car prototypes. However, it may be just as likely that Google finds it place in a screen beside the driver’s wheel of a Nissan.