Google vs traditional automotive industry : lessons from Ludwigsburg congress

Ludwigsburg has hosted the 18th congress on automotive electronics on June 3 and 4, 2014. This event traditionally addresses to top management in the domain bringing together every year some 500 participants.

This year, top themes of the presentations were connected car, driving automation and international markets. Some very interesting contributions came from Tier 1 suppliers and OEMs such as Harman, Bosch, Brilliance or Opel, but also smaller companies like XSe, a management buy-out from Harman.

Google explained its work on autonomous car and announced first products for the end of the decade. The public was very interested, but it seems that the traditional actors still don’t know how to deal with this “nouvelle vague” of actors coming from the consumer electronics to enter the automotive domain. Google has today a strong vertical integration allowing them to become a major actor in the autonomous mobility. For this, Google develops all components and acquires all needed technologies. They are even developing now their own LIDAR sensor. The only piece missing for the moment: is the brand name.

The question discussed therefore during coffee breaks and lunch was, who could be the next target of Google in its acquisition process. Could it be PSA, Daimler, BMW ? Money is available, because it seems that Google has at the moment some 60 bn $ of cash available for its shopping. It should be noted that the Google representative very skillfully avoided responding to the question related to the handling of personal data. With Google, Facebook and others a new kind of business might arrive in the automotive world that shakes the relation between customer, user and owner of a vehicle. Parking in cities might be attributed to customers that drive the right cars from a brand that pays google for their publicity service. Can we still avoid the dependence? Shouldn’t we in Europe create our own “EU-Google”?


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