1. Electric Vehicles (EVs) are irrelevant to fully autonomous (driverless) vehicles. It is true that, as The Economist argues, “autonomous vehicles could just as well be powered by petrol as batteries.” This fails to recognize, however, that there is a virtuous cycle between driverless cars and EVs. Fully autonomous vehicles allow for car-sharing business models that would stimulate demand for small electric vehicles. Such vehicles would, in turn, drive down the per-mile-cost of transportation, further heightening demand for driverless cars. At scale, EVs are also cheaper and easier to build and service—thereby lowering the barriers to entry for new entrants.
2. V2V and V2I communications are essential to driverless cars. The Economist repeats the assumption that vehicle-and-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications capabilities are necessary for driverless cars to operate. While both sets of technology would be valuable to have, any system that depends on them would have to wait decades for full adoption and require massive upfront investments. If v2v and v2i communications are essential then carmakers will outlast other potential entrants. Google, however, is betting that they are not—and making good progress without them.