By Geoffrey Smith and Alan Murray
June 23, 2016

Who will win the race to build the driverless car: Silicon Valley or Detroit? That’s the question Fortune’s Erin Griffith explores in her fascinating story for the July issue of our magazine, which we are publishing online today.


In the last few months, the driverless car has made a stunningly fast transition from science-fiction dream to big money business bet. In March, GM spent $1 billion on a tiny self-driving startup called Cruise Automation. That opened the floodgates. In May, Toyota struck a partnership with Uber, Volkswagen invested $300 million in ride-hailing company Gett, Apple poured $1 billion into China’s Didi Chuxing, and Google partnered with Fiat Chrysler to outfit 100 Pacifica minivans with self-driving technology. The race is officially on.


It’s a race with broad implications for other industries, where executives are watching to see who wins as the digital revolution invades traditional industries. Does the future belong to the tech companies – Google, Apple, Tesla, etc. – with their superior digital skills? Or can legacy companies, with deep engineering and domain expertise, develop digital skills quickly enough to get there first?


Ford’s Mark Fields says he’s determined to see his company “disrupt itself” before Silicon Valley players have the chance. And he argues that Detroit’s engineering culture has some advantages over the Valley’s digital approach. “You can’t hit ‘control-alt-delete’ when you are going 70 miles an hour.” The markets, on the other hand, seem to be betting on the Valley. Uber, amazingly, has a higher valuation than GM and Ford together (even though the car companies generate $145 billion more revenue.)


The end result, of course, could be a merger of the two. Apple has enough cash lying around to buy all the Big Three, if it wanted to; Alphabet could buy two of them. Watch this space.


You can read the full story here. More news below.


Alan Murray


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