The constant rumours and public testing of cars by technology giants like Apple, Google and Uber has some wondering if traditional car companies will soon face an onslaught from the cash-rich industry.
Those companies are keen to move into the automotive sector in unison with the revolution of autonomous and electric vehicles, but Nissan’s global CEO says tech companies will find it more difficult than they think.
Speaking to the media at this week’s Las Vegas consumer electronic show (CES), the CEO of Nissan and Renault and the new chairman of Mitsubishi Motors, Carlos Ghosn, said fears of tech companies taking over the automotive sector are unfounded.
“Obviously today everybody is focused on who has the best tech on autonomous cars and connected cars. People think that tech companies are coming and going to come and eat the lunch of car makers. Not true.” Ghosn said.
According to Ghosn, making a car is far more complicated than the technology products these companies currently produce, and the consumers will not so quickly abandon the core principles of automobiles in favour of digitally focused upstart manufacturers.
“It’s very difficult to say today how much consumers are going to, little by little, abandon the first elements of the car… I don’t think it’s going to be a good advantage [for technology companies in the electric and autonomous evolution].
“We have to deliver the classic requirements of the cars – which is not very easy – attractive cars, safe cars, fuel efficient cars... you know it’s one of the most regulated products on Earth between crash test and emission tests, etc etc, so this is what we are dealing with. This is why there are not so many newcomers, it’s a difficult game. Still, people would like the car to be attractive comfortable, good driving, safe, efficient and on top of that they want connected car, autonomous drive, zero emission etc.”
Ghosn added the new feature technology companies are likely to bring will not be substitutional but rather, an addition to the car values consumers require from new vehicles.
In saying that, he also admits that the advances in technology both regarding artificial intelligence and electric drive in the next decade will see more changes in the automotive sector than we’ve seen in the last 50 years.
Ghosn’s position is arguably somewhat in contrast with upstart technology company Tesla, which remains the leader in electric car drivetrain and autonomous driving technology, invigorating the traditional car makers to shift focus towards these future technologies. Nonetheless, rumours from inside tech giant Apple suggest the brand has abandoned the project of building an actual car, rather focusing its efforts on the software that will drive autonomous and connected cars for the future.
MORE: 2017 CES News