The Frankfurt Motor Show saw lots of gorgeous new models (check out the Audi e-tron quattro and Porsche Mission E, for example), but the buzz all week was not about new cars and new trends — it was about what Apple and Google are planning in the next few years. The world of cars is in transition. No longer do carmakers focus on cubic inches, horsepower, or camshafts. Now they talk about connected cars, self-parking cars, and autonomous-driving cars.
Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn told the motoring press, “By the end of this decade we will have transformed all of our new cars into smart phones on wheels.” And who does smartphones as good or better than anybody? Volkswagen? Nope, that would be Apple, the Silicon Valley powerhouse known to have almost 1,000 engineers working on its super-secret Project Titan, which everyone knows is code for the Apple Car.
Google also is pursuing its interest in making autonomous-driving cars. It professes to have no interest in actually building a car itself, but who knows? If the rewards are high enough, it has the financial muscle to enter any field it chooses and be successful.