DETROIT -- The fate of Google Inc.’s self-driving car rests in the hands of Roush Industries Inc. and other Detroit area suppliers.
Roush, an engineering and specialty manufacturing company known for its custom Ford Mustang models, will assemble a test fleet of 100 Google prototypes in 2015.
Google last week said Continental Automotive Systems and Robert Bosch LLC would be among the suppliers for the vehicles. Both German companies maintain their North American automotive headquarters in suburban Detroit.
Google, the Silicon Valley-based Internet giant, did not contract with an automaker for the project, Chris Urmson, director of Google’s self-driving cars program, told reporters at last week’s Automotive News World Congress in Detroit. Urmson did say that when the pod-like two-seater electric cars are ready for production, an automaker would be involved. He didn’t specify whether the automaker would be one of the Detroit 3.
Roush has leased additional space at 28220 Plymouth Road in Livonia and refurbished the space for the project, Maureen Crowley, director of corporate communications, told Crain’s Detroit Business, an affiliate of Automotive News.
“We’ve built out a whole area specifically for this program,” Crowley said. “It’s been a great opportunity for us to expand upon our assembly capabilities.”
Crowley said Roush has made new hires in supply chain support and assembly, but declined to reveal specific numbers. Google is maintaining a tight lid on the project with non-disclosure agreements.
In July, the Michigan Strategic Fund awarded Roush a $1 million performance-based grant to expand space at multiple sites in suburban Detroit. The project was expected to create 210 new jobs, but did not specifically mention the Google project.
Roush is also “piggybacking” two additional assembly programs, leveraging what it’s learning from the Google project, Crowley said. She declined to discuss the additional projects, citing non-disclosure agreements.
Continental and Bosch have been developing autonomous car technologies and prototypes as part of their own collision avoidance and other safety systems.
Bosch will supply the electric powertrain system for the Google car, including the electric motor and power electronics, spokeswoman Linda Beckmeyer confirmed in an email. It will also supply the long-range radar sensor used to guide autonomous systems for the vehicle.
Beckmeyer declined to discuss whether the supplier has made hires for the project.
Samir Salman, CEO of Continental Automotive Systems, told Automotive News that his company will help design the Google fleet’s brakes, tires, body controllers and interior electronics.
“We’ve been working with them for a while,” Salman said. “Now we’ll concentrate on (helping Google) to build the prototypes. That’s our focus.”