If you’re watching from the outside, you might think that the US auto industry is having a moment: sales have been booming and both General Motors and Ford have been making big moves into Silicon Valley through investments in ride-sharing companies such as Lyft (GM) and outright acquisitions, like Cruise Automation (GM), and Chariot (Ford).
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is partnering with Google. And Detroit has established outposts in the Bay Area, to be closer to the action.
But don’t be fooled — all this activity is flowing in the wrong direction, according to Tony Fadell, the former CEO of Nest and the guy credited with developing the Apple iPod.
Investing and acquiring is a sign of Detroit’s problem — which according to Fadell is that it’s gotten too far from its own entrepreneurial roots in the early 20th century.
“The industry must now find a way to build new companies for a new world,” he said at a recent event in Motown, according to Crain’s Detroit Business.
The stakes, for Fadell, should be transformative. In his view, Crain’s reported, a major automaker needs to “spin off a tech company that supports the industry’s quest toward mobility and the car is no longer a car and the industry is no longer only automotive and Detroit is no longer only the Motor City.”
Not exactly a surprising view, coming from a veteran of the tech industry who happens to also hail from the Detroit area. And certainly something to chew on as the landscape of mobility is reworked over the next decade.
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