Mercedes & Bosch, Ford & Blackberry: The ‘Walking Dead’

If two dead horses partner with each other, you still have a dead horse. This is the impression recent announcements gave the public, when Mercedes-Benz and Bosch announced a partnership to develop autonomous vehicles, and when Ford takes over four hundred RIM/Blackberry-employees, to accelerate efforts for the same area.

All those above-mentioned companies are way behind Google-Waymo, Tesla or Uber in the development of autonomous cars. Imagine, Mercedes was even a pioneer in this field. But the recent Mercedes-announcements highlight how huge their panic must have become. None of these companies is the technological leader in any of those fields. Neither in electric vehicles, nor in autonomous driving, and not at all in sharing models.

Yes, all those companies still make money, a lot of money indeed, but with technologies from the past without a future. The hope of their survival shrinks. And those announcements are not helping either with raising hope.

Instead of working with leading companies, or just simple acquire them, they enter partnerships with the laggards. Intel, that is behind NVIDIA and Qualcomm in computer chips for autonomous driving, took aggressive steps to acquire knowledge. They bought Mobileye for 15.3bn dollars. Note, that a company that has been leading and whose technology is used in many premium models is acquired not by the OEMs but by a computer company.

When you then read comments from the Ford CEO or Mercedes that autonomous cars won’t be available before 2025 or 2026, then you have to read between the lines. ‘They cannot deliver a car before’, but others will.

If there weren’t that many jobs dependent on those companies both in German and the US, you could say ‘”who cares?” But this is an approach that is not giving us hope for those automotive dinosaurs.

This article was also published in German.

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