There has been a lot of news lately about new technological advances being developed for cars. First up is the electric car. Major car manufacturers started out with gas/electric hybrids like the Toyota Prius and begun to move to all electric vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf. A lot of this innovation by the big manufacturers has been prodded by Tesla, the now widely known electric car company. Adding more fuel to the fire, the rumor this week is that Apple has hundreds of people working on an electric car.
Even more interesting than electric cars are driverless cars. Google already showed off its driverless car last year. More recently, Google is said to be developing a ride-hailing service using its driverless cars and in turn Uber is now working on its own driverless car project to compete with Google. Innovation is also springing out of England, where rules for driverless cars on roads have been approved and a locally designed driverless car has been unveiled. Meanwhile, California has failed to approve driverless cars thus far, potentially hampering Google’s efforts.
If electric and driverless car projects were being developed exclusively by the major car manufacturers and small startups I would be mildly excited. Now that giant technology companies like Google, Apple and Uber (Uber is already huge if their rumored financial results are to be believed), innovation will be fast and furious. The major car manufacturers are terrified with the possibility of competing directly with the brand and money of Apple. Uber is terrified with being leapfrogged by Google in a market they created. What all this means is that there are a lot of companies that are highly motivated to innovate quickly and that electric and driverless cars are going to develop much faster than people expect. I think we could see electric cars go truly mass market by 2017 and driverless taxis being publicly introduced in 2017 and mass market by 2019.