The automotive industry is massive. It’s a roughly $2.3 trillion per year business and Ford commands about six percent of it. The transportation services industry that Ford is just starting to get their feet wet in throws around $5.4 trillion every year, of which Ford currently gets a negligible share. Big players like cab companies, private bus companies and Uber do a great job of boxing out newcomers, but Ford is determined to get into the market in a big way and might just be able to do so with Google’s help. Ford CTO Raj Nair, who helped develop some of Ford’s biggest mainstays like the F-series trucks, has been appointed as the man for the job and has spoken highly of Google.
He praised Google while talking of Ford’s newest Android Auto system, the SYNC 3 and in-vehicle electronics in general. “The vehicle is becoming the largest piece of consumer electronics a person will own,” Nair said. “Electronics is embedded into everything we do these days… Google has been a great partner on the development of Android Auto and its integration into the SYNC system.” He went on to deflect questions about Google’s partnership with Ford in the self-driving area, however, saying, “We are working with a lot of people on autonomous driving, such as Velodyne… Obviously a lot of those discussions are private and I’m not able to comment of who we are talking to.”The careful avoidance of the question of Ford’s autonomous driving development raises a few interesting questions itself; just how involved is Google and just how invested does Ford want to become in the autonomous automobile revolution?
Ford’s booth at CES showed off a large number of developments, new products and works in progress including the SYNC 3 and some new drivetrain products, mainly electric. “Offering choice is going to be key,” Nair said of the wide range of products. This further hints at the wide range of new industry developments and fringes into related industries, such as transport services, that Ford is planning to make more moves into. Presumably, Google will be holding their hand through most of these moves until they are a little more seasoned in this particular area of the market. There’s no telling how long that may take but Google seems like a good partner to have help them along the way until they get there.