Jeff Reeves

Jeff Reeves's Strength in Numbers Archives | Email alerts

July 3, 2017, 7:11 p.m. EDT

Alphabet’s Waymo is winning the race for self-driving cars — and Apple is far behind

Baidu and Tesla are also speeding ahead, while Daimler is one to watch

new
Watchlist Relevance
LEARN MORE

Want to see how this story relates to your watchlist?

Just add items to create a watchlist now:

  • X
    Avis Budget Group Inc. (CAR)
  • X
    Alphabet Inc. Cl C (GOOG)
  • X
    Alphabet Inc. Cl A (GOOGL)

or Cancel Already have a watchlist? Log In

By Jeff Reeves, MarketWatch

1 2

Cruising along

Honda

While plenty of tech giants are trying to get in on autonomous cars, don’t think all traditional auto makers are just waiting to be bailed out by Silicon Valley. Honda Motor Co. /zigman2/quotes/207173990/composite HMC +2.21%   /zigman2/quotes/200490352/delayed JP:7267 +1.00%  began testing self-driving cars at a mothballed San Francisco military base back in 2015 , and in 2016 semiautonomous technology including lane assist and forward collision warnings came standard in every luxury vehicle sold under Honda’s Acura nameplate.

The company recently said it is committed to achieving “Level 4” autonomous driving by 2025 , or where onboard systems can handle the majority of driving situations without human intervention. It’s later than some of the forerunners, yes, but Honda seems to be placing a priority on caution and safety in this emerging field. That may prevent it from being first, but may ensure it has the right tech when its solutions come to market.

Click to Play

Why your next car may look like a living room

With driverless cars moving closer to reality, car makers and designers are imagining a future where car interiors look more like a high-tech living room. Photo: Morgan Anderson/Yanfeng

Daimler

Most consumers think of a self-driving electric sedan when they think of what technology can offer. But Mercedes-Benz manufacturer Daimler AG /zigman2/quotes/203566154/delayed DDAIF +0.08%   /zigman2/quotes/205332368/delayed DE:DAI +1.71%  has a much bigger plan. Late last year, the company took an autonomous 18-wheeler on the open road — a tremendous feat for its Highway Pilot technology. What’s equally impressive is that the big rig wasn’t built to be autonomous, but was simply fitted with the necessary software and hardware.

The consumer market may be larger and perhaps more lucrative, but don’t discount the potential of being a player in the world of autonomous freight and logistics. Daimler said its gear could be ready for prime time by 2020, presuming the legal framework is in place for such technology. That could be a game changer for businesses as well as individual drivers.

Falling behind

Apple

While Apple Inc. /zigman2/quotes/202934861/composite AAPL +1.79%  isn’t quite as far along as Google in its self-driving-car efforts, the company did announce this week that it will partner with Hertz Global Holdings Inc.  to test autonomous technology of its own. But details show the deal is for a measly few SUVs , hardly an impressive ramp to the half-dozen other vehicles Apple has been testing in California for the past year.

While there has long been speculation on an Apple Car under the code name Project Titan, it has become increasingly clear that the tech giant is more focused on artificial intelligence and software , despite its hardware roots. Costly overhead and a lack of tangible results have caused some investors to question whether Apple will ever deliver, and investors who have already been biting their nails over the high-stakes iPhone launch this year may not want to give Tim Cook & Co. leeway on this project for much longer.

Click to Play

Test-driving the future of racing: Formula E

Formula E racing aims to reinvent motor sports. WSJ’s Dan Neil travels to Mexico City to test the electric race car's power—and its brakes.

Uber

Early backers of yet-to-IPO Uber have long seen the promise of self-driving taxis. But the high hopes of previous years has given way to more sordid dramas and practical challenges that are making innovation in 2017 more difficult. That includes the ouster of CEO Travis Kalanick amid allegations of sexual misconduct at the highest levels of the company, but it also includes the bottom-line practicalities of increased competition from competitors like Lyft that have stepped up recently.

Read: Uber must raise fares — and do 5 more things — to survive

For a young company like Uber that’s still bleeding cash, it’s risky to plow money aggressively into self-driving cars even as it still trying to assert its dominance in the nascent arena of ride sharing. Adding fuel to the fire is a late-2016 rollout of autonomous driving tests in Pittsburgh that soured in a hurry , leaving local politicians and community leaders questioning the wisdom of continuing the experiment.

Uber may have a lot of smart people and a good launchpad for self-driving cars, but it also has some serious challenges that it needs to sort out before it worries about where autonomous driving technology will be in a decade’s time.

/zigman2/quotes/207173990/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 30.51
+0.66 +2.21%
Volume: 788,439
May 13, 2021 4:00p
P/E Ratio
13.28
Dividend Yield
2.13%
Market Cap
$51.90 billion
Rev. per Employee
$628,000
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/200490352/delayed
JP : Japan: Tokyo
¥ 3,327.00
+33.00 +1.00%
Volume: 3.68M
May 14, 2021 3:00p
P/E Ratio
13.85
Dividend Yield
2.46%
Market Cap
¥5673.76 billion
Rev. per Employee
¥68.28M
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/203566154/delayed
US : U.S.: OTC
$ 87.65
+0.07 +0.08%
Volume: 10,632
May 13, 2021 3:42p
P/E Ratio
9.86
Dividend Yield
4.13%
Market Cap
$93.35 billion
Rev. per Employee
$609,774
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/205332368/delayed
DE : Germany: Frankfurt
73.22
+1.23 +1.71%
Volume: 3,151
May 14, 2021 2:09p
P/E Ratio
N/A
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
N/A
Rev. per Employee
€560,333
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/202934861/composite
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 124.97
+2.20 +1.79%
Volume: 105.86M
May 13, 2021 4:00p
P/E Ratio
28.04
Dividend Yield
0.70%
Market Cap
$2085.45 billion
Rev. per Employee
$1.86M
loading...

Jeff Reeves is the editor of InvestorPlace.com. Follow him on Twitter @JeffReevesIP.

1 2
This Story has 0 Comments
Be the first to comment
More News In
Investing

Story Conversation

Commenting FAQs »

Partner Center

Link to MarketWatch's Slice.