Apple Car Threat Taken Seriously by Major Automaker Executives

Experienced car makers spend up to seven years to develop a new vehicle from scratch, but Apple will have its own ready by 2020, says Bloomberg (again). Now, as the 85th Geneva International Motor Show kicks off in a couple days, automakers respond to what has been circulating in the news. And they apparently take the Apple Car seriously. What seems more obvious, though, is their openness to partnerships with tech companies for a better experience in the car.

Apple icar

Let’s take, for example, Volkswagen AG Chief Executive Officer Martin Winterkorn’s comment. The company he represents is “interested in the technologies of Google and Apple, and I think that we, as the Volkswagen company, can bring together the digital and mobile world.”

Stefan Bratzel, director of the Center of Automotive Management at the University of Applied Sciences in Bergisch Gladbach, Germany, emphasized the importance of taking the competition seriously and pointed to the advantages Google and Apple have: They can make a fresh start, since they aren’t burdened with old technology.

“It’s exactly what this industry needed: a disruptive interloper,” said Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV. “It’s a good thing but when you are one of the guys whose life is being disrupted then you are not necessarily looking forward to the event.”

Speaking with Reuters, German car and truck maker Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche sees a tremendous opportunity in the convergence of the “West Coast tech industry and the auto industry with its huge technological depth.” Daimler is open to collaboration with Apple or Google, he added.

“The traditional thinking in the automotive industry isn’t suited to exploit the opportunities in the Internet community,” Wolfgang Ziebart, Jaguar Land Rover’s head of engineering, said in an interview. “If you need committees and so on to make decisions, then you’ve lost before you started.”

Apple has the cash to enter the industry. The question is: Do you want an Apple Car? We know Carl Icahn does.