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Car Industry Welcomes Google, Apple, But Battles Loom

March 5, 2015
Google has long made headlines with its plans for a self-driving car, but Apple is now also reportedly readying for a plunge into the industry to begin developing an electric car.

GENEVA - It could be the battle of the titans. Auto giants at the Geneva Motor Show say they welcome the potential move of Silicon Valley players into their sector but experts warn of major disruptions.

Google has long made headlines with its plans for a self-driving car, but Apple is now also reportedly readying for a plunge into the industry to begin developing an electric car.

"This could surprise you, but I welcome with open arms the interest of Apple, Google and others in the auto industry," Volkswagen head Martin Winterkorn said, adding he thought it would help garner interest for cars among new generations who grow up connected.

Fiat-Chrysler chief Sergio Marchionne agreed, saying the Californian giants' arrival would be "exactly what this industry needed."

"We're completely at ease with the idea of cooperating with people who help us provide excellent service to our clients," says Yves Bonnefont, who looks after connected vehicles at French auto giant PSA.

But "we also have a duty, which is to protect the private life of our clients, and of course we aim to exercise this duty".

Franck Vigot, head of the automobile department at French engineering firm Segula Technologies, says the consumer electronics sector and the car industry are "two worlds that are meeting, each with their strengths and weaknesses, and we're realising they don't know each other very well".

Beyond battles for data control, "the technical encounter between these two worlds will spark a shockwave that could be pretty impressive," he added.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015

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