Ford's new CEO, Jim Hackett, who recently replaced Mark Fields, was speaking during the company's earnings call earlier this week. Hackett was talking about the future of automotive and transportation, and unsurprisingly, the topic of self-driving cars and Silicon Valley popped up. Hackett said that he believes Silicon Valley needs Detroit more than Detroit needs Silicon Valley. And he's likely right about that. Detroit's automakers have been working on making cars for over a hundred years – in fact Ford has been doing it for 114 years now. So they definitely have the experience, which is something that Silicon Valley is lacking. However, Hackett also noted "it would be arrogant of me to say that the Valley is in trouble." And that's also true, because Silicon Valley is definitely not in trouble, when it comes to self-driving cars.
Hackett, while saying that Silicon Valley is not in trouble, did also say that he doesn't believe they need to hand over the future of transportation over to companies in Silicon Valley like Waymo, Uber and Lyft. Ford is working on reinventing itself once again. This is something that Ford has had to do several times to keep itself relevant in the ever-changing automotive industry. And right now, it's working on adding technology to its cars. Whether that is through Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, autonomy or something else.
Ford is working on some autonomous cars right now, in fact, it is still the only company that is testing these autonomous cars in snowy conditions. Now that is definitely where automakers in Detroit have a leg up on Silicon Valley. Since there is no snow in Silicon Valley, and there is in Detroit. Which means companies like Ford, GM and Chrysler can do more testing in the snow than those in Silicon Valley. Ford has been working on making some of its Fusion's self-driving and has even supplied some to Uber for its own self-driving car project. Ford's self-driving cars have actually been some of the sleekest on the roads so far, sporting fairly small LiDAR sensors around the car, making it look almost like a normal car. Which is pretty impressive, at this point in time.
Right now, Ford is still a profitable company, but it doesn't want to go down the path of no longer being profitable. It went down that past in the past decade during the recession, as did the other car makers. It's not something they want to experience again anytime soon. Ford is right in saying that Silicon Valley likely needs Detroit more than it needs Silicon Valley. After all, those tech companies are not making physical cars. They are simply making the software to make these vehicles self-driving. So someone has to build these vehicles, and that's where Ford and others come in. Of course, Ford is also working on its own self-driving technology, so it doesn't really even need Silicon Valley in that sense. But that doesn't mean that it doesn't want to work with Silicon Valley, something it is already doing.