Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) is beating out the competition as they race to get a self-driving car on the road – for now. Tesla says it will give owners of the new Model S their first self-driving features in a software update before the end of the summer. That puts Elon Musk’s firm in the lead for now, but future rivals are making plans and building strength. In a recent report, Goldman Sachs said that self-driving will be commonplace by 2025.
The investment bank reports that Tesla Motors Inc. will face new and old rivals in the race to dominate the self-driving car world. Daimler and Nissan will put their own cars on the road in the next decade, but Elon Musk may have more to worry about from three new entrants into the car market. Here’s a look at the competition.
Apple Inc. Aims for Tesla Motors
At the Code Conference this morning, Thursday May 28, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) senior vice president of operations, Jeff Williams made a cheeky reference to that company’s plans to release a self-driving car of its own. Mr. Williams said that the cars would be “the ultimate mobile device” borrowing a phrase from a recent Bernstein report on the firm’s car ambitions.
Those comments will add fuel to a fire that has been burning for months. Apple has been poaching automotive engineers from Tesla Motors, and the firm’s plans in the car market have been directly commented on by everybody from Carl Icahn to Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne.
Tim Cook and Apple’s other leaders have stayed far away from talking about a car plan, but Project Titan, as the research is thought to be called, has come up in several places including a big investigation by Apple Insider.
It seems certain that Apple is working to build a rival to Tesla Motors, but it is not known if the firm will actually get a car onto the road. Tim Cook gave up on the firm’s plans to release a TV lately after years of trying to make a device good enough to sell. Even Gene Munster admitted defeat on that front. That kind of failure to launch could also happen with the car.
Google gets self-driving cars on the road this Summer
Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) has been working to make cars drive themselves for longer than almost anyone else. The firm’s project is more or less public, and it has shown some real success so far. The firm says that it will put self-driving cars on the public roads this Summer in order to fully test them.
Goldman Sachs thinks that Google will beat rivals onto the road with self-driving cars. The investment bank estimates that Google will get its level 4 cars onto the road in 2017.
Tesla Motors may get limited features out there before then, but the path to fully functional cars is a hard one and Google has more experience in the space. The Mountain View firm is the reason that Goldman sees 2017 as a “Watershed Year” in the self-driving world.
Uber is working in the background
With more money than it knows what to do with from successive rounds of funding, Uber is ready to change transport yet again with an entry into the self-driving market. While Google and Apple make the big headlines, Uber is getting its own team of car engineers together in order to make something special.
The firm is putting self-driving research cars on the roads in Pittburgh. The Ford sedan the firm is using if covered with huge banks of sensors. Uber may even be working on a system that it could sell to third parties, rather than one it would need to build into cars it makes itself.
Google, Apple and Uber will all have some kind of try at the self-driving car market in the next five years, and though Tesla Motors is ahead on getting its cars to customers, the firm is still vulnerable to competition.
Elon Musk, and Tesla shareholders, will need to watch their moves closely in the years ahead.