What's going on?
Google-parent Alphabet and Italian-American carmaker Fiat Chrysler announced they’d signed an exclusive deal to go on a shadowy flight into the dangerous world of… developing self-driving commercial vehicles together.
What does this mean?
Having worked with Fiat back in 2016, Alphabet thinks the carmaker is the right partner to help it make a name for itself in the self-driving commercial vehicle market. The tech giant will start by working to introduce autonomous driving technology – developed by its Waymo business – into Fiat’s Ram ProMaster van, and then they’ll work together exclusively on “Level 4” autonomous vehicles, which require a driver to be present but not active.
Waymo has been busy: last month it announced it’d be teaming up with Sweden’s Volvo to develop self-driving electric vehicles, potentially for ride-hailers like Lyft to use. And if anyone’s a safe pair of hands, it’s Volvo…
Why should I care?
For markets: Shoot for the moon.
Of the 29 investment analysts who cover Alphabet’s stock, 28 of them are recommending that investors buy at the moment. But even the most optimistic don’t think the company’s “other bets” – including AI firm DeepMind, healthcare organization Verily, and, yup, Waymo – make any difference to its overall valuation (tweet this). So if long-term investors do their homework, they might find Waymo could become a sustainable business that propels Alphabet’s value far beyond its current $1 trillion in years to come.
The bigger picture: Cars, cars, cars.
The 290% rise of Tesla’s shares this year has some investors counting the days until the electric carmaker joins the S&P 500, America’s biggest stock market index. To qualify, the company needed to report four consecutive quarters of profit – and it just did exactly that late on Wednesday. Its investors should be very pleased indeed: investment funds that track companies in the S&P 500 may now be forced to buy its shares, likely boosting its stock even more.