Autonomous vehicles could be getting a large boost thanks to a new alliance between Ford and Google to build self-driving vehicles.
Yahoo Autos has learned from three sources that the two companies will be announcing a partnership at the Consumer Electronics Show next month. Details of this new partnership are scarce, but it is understood that the partnership would be legally separate from Ford to shield it from concerns about liability. The deal is also non-exclusive as Google has been talking to other automakers about using its self-driving technology.
Automotive News adds that both companies have been working on a contract manufacturing deal “for a long time” according to a source.
It should be noted that two former Ford executives are in leadership roles at Google. Former CEO Alan Mulally joined Google's board last July. John Krafcik, whose resume includes being the chief engineer during the development of the Ford Expedition and CEO of Hyundai was brought into Google this September to become the CEO of the company’s Self-Driving Car Project.
Gartner's lead automotive analyst, Thilo Koslowski tells Automotive News that this deal is a win for both parties. Automakers like Ford would like to work with Google as a way to catch up to rivals that ar working on autonomous driving tech as a way to differentiate their products.
For Google, Koslowski says that “the focus has shifted to looking for OEM partners to deploy the technology, rather than considering building their own vehicles. That makes sense. If Google is interested in bringing the benefit of the technology to consumers, then they need as many partners as possible.”
Google declined to comment. Ford spokesman Alan Hall neither confirmed or denied a deal.
“We work with a lot of tech companies all over the world. We keep these discussions private for obvious competitive reasons and we do not comment on speculation,” said Hall.