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Ford: 'We assume Apple is working on a car'

Ford: 'We assume Apple is working on a car'
Ford is working on the assumption that its major rivals in the future may not be General Motors or Chrysler but Google and Apple, the chief executive of the company has revealed.
The chief executive also added that the latter – Apple is probably building a car.
"Our working assumption is that they are. And that provides us with the right motivation to make sure we stay very focused not only on the product but overall on the experience that the customer has interacting with the product and the services that we have," Mark Fields said in an interview to Forbes.
"Staying focused" means teaming up with technology companies to see how the "internet of things" changes how people interact with their vehicles and launching a new Ford technology business in Palo Alto - the capital of Silicon Valley - working on "autonomous cars" that can drive automatically.
It was revealed that Apple had hired former Tesla vice president of vehicle engineering and Aston Martin chief engineer, Chris Porritt, last week, .
It is believed he will be working on Titan, Apple's car project.
Technology companies have recognized the value of "mobility" as a market in the future alongside Google's self-driving cars.
The estimated value of the traditional car market globally is about £1.6 trillion in revenues every year.
The market increases to £3.8 trillion when revenues generated from taxis, car sharing, Uber-style businesses, bikes, buses, coaches – all the other forms of road based ground transport are added to it.
And Mr Fields would quite like a chunk of that.
"There are a lot of traditional competitors that we have in our business who we know and we respect. There are a lot of new non-traditional competitors who are looking at the automotive space and looking at that addressable market and saying 'gee can we get a piece of that. We are viewing that as an opportunity not as a threat and there will be some things [we can do] on our own to be able to satisfy those customer needs that technology enables," he said.
"And at other times we will partner with others and that's the reason we set up a big research and innovation centre in Palo Alto because we want to collaborate with and participate in that environment," he added.
Field says that Ford is not into the "handset, commodity base business" or "contract manufacturing".
However there were possibilities of joint venture projects with Google and other technology companies.
"Level 4" driverless cars will be available by the end of the decade says Ford which made record profits of $10.8bn last year. "Level 4" cars can drive autonomously in a pre-defined area fully mapped by computers.
On the other hand, "Level 5" cars, much further away, can take over completely from the driver and "take you home".
"A Level 4 vehicle is where the passenger does not have to take control of the vehicle, but it's a vehicle that's in a pre-defined area, that's been 3D mapped, and what we call geo-fenced," Fields said.
"And we believe when we look at the advancements in the sensors and advancements in the software algorithms which are necessary for the vehicle to navigate, that probably by the end of the decade, in the next four years or so, someone in the industry may have a Level 4 vehicle. It may not be us, but we are working very, very intently on this," he added.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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