What are Apple, Google, and Tesla doing regards automated cars?
All three companies have major projects going in these areas. Tesla has been equipping its Model S sedan with frequent software and hardware upgrades. A software update to be launched later this year will activate the “auto-steering” feature in the newer Model S vehicles. Elon Musk claims this addition will enable the Model S to drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco without human intervention.
Apple Inc. is speeding up efforts to build a car, designating it internally as a “committed project” and setting a target ship date for 2019. It is impossible for me to imagine that this car will not be electric and have some sort of automatic driving ability.
Google is in many ways ahead of everyone in making a self-driving car, at least in testing out the sensors and electronics. From their published data, their test cars have a total of almost 1.2 million miles driving autonomously, and they are currently averaging 10,000 miles per week on public streets. However, because of government restrictions, these miles were at no more than 25 mph. They have a total of 48 prototypes with auto-drive capability, and Google has indicated they will soon have hundreds.
It is hard for me to imagine that Apple and Google will not tie-in with Tesla when they want to build their own cars. Tesla could supply the batteries and electric drive. Certainly Apple will want to dictate the design of their car, and Google is not about to give up its expertise/experience in self-drive. I am going to guess that both the Apple and Google cars will be smaller than the Model 3 that Tesla is planning to come out with in 2017. The Tesla model 3 is expected to be the size of the BMW 3 series, which is not all that small. It is also to have a base price of $35,000; so with add-ons, $40,000 will most likely be the price most people pay. Even with the $7500 tax credit, that makes the car a $32,500 vehicle. My guess is that Apple and Google will shoot for a car that is priced well below $30,000 reasonably equipped and before the tax credit.
One of the reasons I believe that Apple and Google will go with Tesla batteries and drive is because they will want to make use of the Tesla charge stations being built around the world. In fact, I would guess that there will be some agreement that both Apple and Google will build additional charge stations to make their cars more attractive to buyers. And their cars will get a minimum of 300 miles per charge. Range anxiety has to end.
Note that I own some Tesla stock.