As we get closer and closer to a self-driving car future, the lines between the auto industry and tech are getting blurry.
In this clip from Industry Focus: Industrials, host Sean O'Reilly is joined by senior auto specialist John Rosevear to talk about some of the most exciting tech news shared by Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) and Ford (NYSE:F) at this year's North American International Auto Show.
A full transcript follows the video.
This podcast was recorded on Jan. 19, 2017.
Sean O'Reilly: You mentioned how increasingly there's tech analysts there. It might be just a happy coincidence that it was right after CES [the Consumer Electronics Show]. Did it feel like a tech show when you were there?
John Rosevear: It has become really interesting. I didn't go to CES this year; we had other folks from The Fool who were out there. But CES -- the Consumer Electronics Show, which is in Vegas -- is also held usually the first week of January every year, has had more and more of an automotive focus. Ford CEO Mark Fields was out there. Mobileye and Delphi were demonstrating their new self-driving stuff out there. Fiat Chrysler showed off an electric concept minivan at CES. It's more and more focused on autos, future-tech autos.
Then the press days run up until Wednesday or Thursday of that week, and then everything starts in Detroit the following Sunday. It's just a couple days later; people fly straight in. This year, it was very notable -- it was almost as if that conversation was continuing on a separate track from the traditional show itself, where they're unveiling the latest minivan and all that kind of stuff.
We had John Krafcik, who heads up Waymo. Waymo is the company under the Alphabet umbrella formerly known as the Google Self-Driving Car Project. John Krafcik was in Detroit; he gave a presentation on Sunday afternoon talking about the state of Waymo's technology and what they're doing to test it and so forth. He was clearly there talking to the auto industry, talking to the automakers.
Waymo seems to be in "let's make a deal" mode right now. They showed off the test car they created with Fiat Chrysler, a Waymo-ized version of the Chrysler Pacifica minivan, which is already kind of futuristic and sexy-looking. It's kind of cool-looking; their self-driving sensors and stuff are much more smoothly integrated. You can still tell it's a test car, it still has this big thing on the roof. But it looks more like something you might see produced in the near future. They were running around with Toyota and Lexus and Audi test vehicles with stuff tacked on for years.
But anyway, to get back to the point, there was a steady discussion. Ford had a whole separate thing going on adjacent to the show where they had speakers on future mobility. Ford is trying to get into the business of helping cities come up with mobility plans as electric cars, self-driving, ride-sharing, and so forth become more prevalent and more affordable as technology advances. And this is a whole separate discussion that's going on throughout the show, aside from the traditional show itself, where automakers are showing off their new vehicles to the global media. It was really interesting, the way this is going. And there were several points in the show where I wished there had been two of me, because there were two things going on at the same time that I really wanted to attend.
Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. John Rosevear owns shares of Ford. Sean O'Reilly has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), and Ford. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.