The Google car is the work of a mere 12 engineers, and the company has spent perhaps $50 million on the project. To put this amount into context, it is less than .0003 percent of Google’s revenue over the course of the program. It is also less than a third of what car makers have spent on Super Bowl ads over the same period.
Major car makers would, of course, resist letting Google control the driving OS layer of their vehicles. But, even if some carmakers can match Google’s technology, it is doubtful that every carmaker will succeed. So it is possible that some will turn to Google as a white knight in response to capabilities developed by GM, Daimler or Toyota.
The value of supplying driverless software to some portion of all new cars might warrant Google’s pursuing the Android strategy again by licensing the software for a price so low that manufacturers cannot refuse. Imagine a fleet of millions of cars feeding map and traffic data to Google maps, feeding location and behavior data to Google’s customer intelligence, acting as repeaters to Google’s broadband mesh WiFi network and, of course, exchanging queries and advertising via Google’s search engine.