Are car manufacturers about to be swallowed up by GAFA?


It is an essential element of the cars of tomorrow: data. This is even what is most valuable. It represents all on-board data, ie all connected services such as the use of navigation. So to manage this data, innovate and improve driving aids, car manufacturers call on the best: the giants of tech. Volkswagen has signed a partnership with Microsoft, Toyota with Amazon and Renault with Google.

The risk is then to find oneself completely swallowed up by the tech company. On the stock market, it is often a hundred times more valued than a car manufacturer … Luca de Meo, the CEO of Renault has understood this well. And he assured during the presentation of his latest strategic plan that Renault will eventually become a “technology company that integrates vehicles”. And not the other way around. This collaboration will also be strengthened. In a few months, the Megane e-vision will be released, the first car with the built-in Android operating system. No need to connect via your smartphone anymore.

Rivian “is the main competitor identified in the future for Tesla”

There is therefore no question, for the moment, of seeing a Google Car or an Apple Car on the roads. The know-how of historic manufacturers allows them to resist since making a car is easy, but millions, it becomes much more complex. Like Tesla, which came close to bankruptcy at the start of its activity.

So to conquer the market, on the strength of this experience, the kings of data choose different models. Either they rely on a historic manufacturer, like Apple is trying to do, or they invest in a start-up to get tailor-made, as Amazon is doing with Rivian. For Guillaume Kerbrat, it is no mystery, Rivian “is the main competitor identified in the future for Tesla”. “The Amazon van, the autonomous delivery vehicle driven by an employee of the group, even if it is not intended to supply consumer cars under its brand, will bring to the market vehicles that will be in direct competition with its partners, ”he continues. Amazon has already ordered 100,000 from its partner.

The GAFA will not directly become manufacturers … but the contractors. Proof that this cohabitation will not be easy lies in the failed merger between Apple and Nissan. The American giant wanted an “Apple Car”, but it was impossible for the Japanese manufacturer for the name of Nissan to disappear. He risked being seen as a mere supplier.

A process largely underway in China

It is not only GAFAs that are gaining ground on car manufacturers. Their Chinese equivalents BATX (for Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent and Xiaomi) are also going on the attack. Mobile phone maker Xiaomi, for example, just announced a $ 10 billion investment by 2030 in electric cars in partnership with one of the largest SUV manufacturers in China.

For its part, Alibaba, the Chinese Amazon, and SAIC Motor, the number 1 manufacturer in the country, have just launched a brand of high-end electric cars.

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