A little, buried factoid in the hubbub over Google's little automatic bean-mobile, which drove the Internet crazy last night: It's being built here in the Motor City*. Now we need to know who's behind it.
The New York Times has learned that somewhere around these parts, 100 of Google's driverless cars will be built. (And as Juan Barnett rightfully points out, Google themselves aren't building the car; they're commissioning someone to build it for them.)
The question is, who? Google is apparently tight-lipped about it, per the NYT:
Google is having 100 cars built by a manufacturer in the Detroit area, which it declined to name. Nor would it say how much the prototype vehicles cost. They will have a range of about 100 miles, powered by an electric motor that is roughly equivalent to the one used by Fiat's 500e, Dr. Urmson said. They should be road-ready by early next year, Google said.
So let's narrow down who has a hand in this project. Brakes and steering wheels are out, obviously. So, those red seats — done by Recaro, which has a facility up in Auburn Hills? Or Johnson Controls or Lear?
Since 100 of them are built, could Google have commissioned an independent builder, like former GM engineer Richard Marks, who is behind the EcoV electric vehicle? Marks sourced his supplies from Energy Components Group up in St. Clair; are they involved?
I wouldn't be at all surprised if Shinola, the overnight darling of Detroit manufacturing, has a hand in this. (Was there a hand-built clock in the dash?)
Anyone with any information is more than welcome to start a burner account and let us know.