Bill Ford is tired of hearing that the future of cars belongs to Silicon Valley. Yet for years, the Apple and Google crowd have been telling him that only Big Tech can make driverless vehicles.
"There was this presumption that we were too dumb to get it," said the Ford Motor Co. executive chairman and great-grandson of auto pioneer Henry. "The conversation has really shifted."
Apple and Google, once intent on disrupting, if not destroying, Detroit, have concluded for now that they don't want to build cars. Now they are banking on supplying the autonomous software that will drive robot rides, while all but conceding that they're not up to the complex task of mass production.
"The old conversation I used to have was: "You guys are going to end up being the handset; you're going to be low-margin assemblers of other people's cool technology,'" Ford said. "We don't want to be the handset. And we won't be."