Earlier this year, it was reported that Google was seeking partners to bring self-driving cars to market and now it appears the tech company has found one.
Google is in talks with Ford on a relationship that would have the American automaker building the next-generation self-driving cars for the company. If the deal is finalized, an announcement could be made as soon as early January at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. A source with knowledge of the project has said that both parties have been negotiating on a contract manufacturing deal “for a long time.”
Ford is scheduled to host a press conference on January 5 at CES and those scheduled to attend include CEO Mark Fields, product development chief Raj Nair, research and advanced engineering vice president Ken Washington and Don Butler, executive director of connected vehicles and services.
It is being reported that the deal would result in a new joint venture that would be legally separate from Ford, shielding the automaker from potential liability. Just last week, it was reported that Google is planning to turn its self-driving car division into a standalone company that would be under the Alphabet, Inc. umbrella.
What is unclear is what role each company would have in the joint venture and whether Ford would design a vehicle specifically for Google or supply a standard production car with sensors and computers to make it autonomous. The American automaker plans to begin testing its self-driving Fusion Hybrids on California roads this year.
Google’s first generation of self-driving cars (seen above) were assembled in Detroit by Roush Industries, a company with close ties to Ford. The tech giant has two veteran Ford executives as part of its leadership team, with former Ford CEO Alan Mulally on the board of directors and John Krafcik serving as CEO of the Self-Driving Car Project.
[Source: Automotive News]
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