Track the companies that matter to you. It's FREE! Click one of these fan favorites to get started: Apple; Google; Ford.



Business Take: Will Google's Self-Driving Car Business Be Bigger Than its Search Business?

Though people think of Google  (NASDAQ: GOOG  ) as a search engine, the company has a number of products in the pipeline that could radically change its business going forward. One of those -- the driverless car -- moved a step closer to reality as the company unveiled a new prototype last week.

"They've developed a car that doesn't even tempt you to drive. It has no wheel and it has no pedals," said host Jason Hellmann on Business Take, the show that gives you the Foolish perspective on the most important business stories of the week  

The new vehicle, which looks a bit like a futuristic version of a child's Little Tikes car, is notable because it has nothing to do with Google as we know it now. Though in some ways driverless vehicles are a logical extension of Google's GPS services, it's a huge departure from what has been the company's core business. 

 Little Tikes, left, has a wheel but it does not have an engine or gas pedals.

Hellmann asked Business Take panelist Daniel Kline whether in 20 years we would think of the brand as a search or a car company.

"I don't think they are going to be a self-driving car company," Kline said. "I still think the self-driving car is a novelty. Maybe there will be cities that employ the self-driving cars."

Kline added that New York City or Disney World might employ the technology, but it's hard to imagine a world in which Americans give up their vehicles. 

"It feels to me like the Segway ... not a practical item," Kline said.

"I disagree," Hellmann argued. "I see self-driving cars as a really exciting thing that Americans can really get behind."

Hellmann cited the productivity advantages of being able to do other things while traveling. He also brought up the fact that self-driving cars bring up huge insurance questions. 

"What happens when your self-driving car gets in an accident?" Hellmann asked.

Overall if self-driving cars become the norm it should lower costs across everything from insurance to health care, police, and other costs related to driving and accidents. The challenge for Google is handling liability for whatever accidents occur. 

"Google's going to sued," Kline said. "But that may be a relatively trivial expense compared to the millions of these cars it could sell. That might just be an acceptable cost of doing business."

Do you believe self-driving cars will be how people know Google in the future? Watch the full video then share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Are you ready for this $14.4 trillion revolution?
Have you ever dreamed of traveling back in time and telling your younger self to invest in Apple? Or to load up on at its IPO, and then just keep holding? We haven't mastered time travel, but there is a way to get out ahead of the next big thing. The secret is to find a small-cap "pure-play" and then watch as the industry -- and your company -- enjoy those same explosive returns. Our team of equity analysts has identified one stock that's ready for stunning profits with the growth of a $14.4 TRILLION industry. You can't travel back in time, but you can set up your future. Click here for the whole story in our eye-opening report.

Read/Post Comments (1) | Recommend This Article (0)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

Add your comment.

Sponsored Links

Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 2980834, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 9/4/2015 8:24:33 AM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...

Daniel B. Kline

Daniel B. Kline is an accomplished writer and editor who has worked for the Microsoft's Finance app and The Boston Globe, where he wrote for the paper and ran the business desk. His latest book "Worst Ideas Ever" (Skyhorse) can be purchased at bookstores everywhere.

Today's Market

updated 11 hours ago Sponsored by:
DOW 16,374.76 23.38 0.14%
S&P 500 1,951.13 2.27 0.12%
NASD 4,733.50 0.00 0.00%

Create My Watchlist

Go to My Watchlist

You don't seem to be following any stocks yet!

Better investing starts with a watchlist. Now you can create a personalized watchlist and get immediate access to the personalized information you need to make successful investing decisions.

Data delayed up to 5 minutes

Related Tickers

9/3/2015 3:59 PM
GOOG $606.25 Down +0.00 +0.00%
Google (C shares) CAPS Rating: ****