Daimler CFO Says Apple Car Possibility Is Good News for Auto Industry

Feb 26, 2015 09:00 AM EST | Jordan Ecarma

Whether it happens or not, people just can't stop talking about the rumored Apple car.

Soon after receiving rather disparaging remarks from a former General Motors CEO, the "iCar" possibility has gotten a thumbs up from Bodo Uebber, Daimler's chief financial officer, according to the Financial Times.

"It shows that the industry has a major growth potential and therefore I'm happy because we're part of the automotive industry," Uebber said of the report that Apple is developing its own self-driving car.

Uebber welcomed the competition but claimed that Daimler is already ahead of the game as the auto industry's major players race to be the first to offer an autonomous production vehicle.

"We have autonomous driving," said Uebber, as quoted by the Financial Times. "We're the frontrunner. In trucks, last year we demonstrated a truck on the highway autonomously driving between Mannheim and Pforzheim. FT2025 demonstrated what we can do in the future."

Former GM CEO Dan Akerson was less encouraging toward Apple in reports from last week.

They'd better think carefully if they want to get into the hard-core manufacturing," Akerson said of Apple during an interview with Bloomberg. "We take steel, raw steel, and turn it into car. They have no idea what they're getting into if they get into that."

The Cupertino, Calif.-based tech giant may have money and influence, but Apple would be in over its head with vehicle production, he said.

"A lot of people who don't ever operate in it don't understand and have a tendency to underestimate," he said.

While the potential Apple car is generating plenty of buzz, the company has yet to confirm the existence of the "Titan" van project reported earlier this month by the Wall Street Journal.

Even sans a physical vehicle offering, Apple poses a threat to the auto industry as cars become increasingly connected. Mark Fields, CEO for Ford, recently expressed his concern about a potential future where auto brands become like the handset industry and vehicles are only shells for iOS or Android software.

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