Self-driving cars are often heralded as the future of the century-old automotive industry, with the potential to change fundamentally the way companies make money. Meantime, hefty support from investors has spurred a years-long contest between automakers, startups and Silicon Valley tech companies to deploy the first commercial fleet of driverless cars — and begin to reap the financial rewards.
But it’s still unclear what those commercial services might look like. Leaders like General Motors Co.’s GM Cruise LLC and Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo LLC appear focused on ride-hailing services, looking to mirror the success of Uber and Lyft without the added cost of human drivers. Others, like Ford Motor Co., are more concentrated on delivery and e-commerce.
The end result, however, likely won’t be so black-and-white.