Automakers go west in search of tech and talent

As in-vehicle technologies evolve, and autonomous cars come closer to reality, the automotive industry is setting up shop where the developers are: in Silicon Valley.

cw feb2016 detroit silicon valley
Stephen Sauer

Here's how you can tell there's a seismic shift underway in the auto industry: A slew of automakers have set up R&D centers in Silicon Valley, hoping to be closer to the developers and the technologies they need to remain competitive.

In the past five years, BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Renault-Nissan and Toyota have all opened research-and-development facilities in the San Francisco Bay Area. Last year, Ford followed suit, as did General Motors, which opened an "Advanced Technology Silicon Valley Office" in Palo Alto to develop a Web browser for Cadillac's CUE in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) system.

Those moves come as Apple and Android fight for a presence on many new cars' navigation screens -- both Ford and Fiat Chrysler announced at CES 2016 that Apple's CarPlay and Google's Android Auto would be coming soon to their vehicles.

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