For now, automakers aren't expressing fears, at least publicly, that the investments they need to make will outstrip their resources.
Volkswagen AG has $32 billion in cash, deposits and marketable securities, according to the 2014 earnings report it delivered last week. Toyota Motor Corp. has even more, about $37 billion. Ford Motor's cash and cash equivalents total $21.7 billion. Fiat Chrysler has $22.8 billion. GM has $25.2 billion -- at least for now.
And they have credit and financing sources beyond that. Most are raking in robust profits that provide a steady source of new cash.
But there's some acknowledgment that the demands are daunting and are increasing.
"The reality is, this business consumes an inordinate amount of capital. It sucks up capital at the speed of light," Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said at the Automotive News World Congress in January.
He believes the cash needs eventually will force the industry into a period of consolidation. "It cannot survive long term without it," Marchionne said.
Some level of collaboration is inevitable. Automakers will rely on their suppliers for some technology development, and companies such as Bosch, Delphi and Continental are spending heavily on their own research into automated driving and electric vehicles. Panasonic, Harman and others are working on new head units that integrate with iPhones and Android devices.
But car companies still must take a leading role because the powertrain technology and the in-car electronics will define the personality of their cars and their brands.
"No automaker can afford to outsource these" completely, Krafcik said.