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Elon Musk: Google won't compete with Tesla on self-driving cars — but Apple will

Though he said it may be too late for Apple.

As Tesla moves deeper into autonomous car tech, its CEO, Elon Musk, sees one tech giant as a potential competitor — and another as not.

It's probably not what you think.

"Google's done a great job at showing the potential of autonomous transport, but they're not a car company," Musk said Wednesday night at the Code Conference. "So they'd potentially license to other companies."

Elon Musk
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Elon Musk

"I wouldn't say they're a competitor," he added.

What about Apple?

"Yeah," Musk replied. "That'll be more direct."

He added a caveat. Musk said that the iPhone maker, which has been incredibly secretive about its car plans, may be too late to the development of autonomous vehicles to be a big threat.

"I'd think there will be volume production no sooner than 2020," he said about Apple. "Is that too late?"

Previously, Musk dubbed Apple as a "Tesla graveyard" in response to the defection of Tesla employees to Apple.

At Code, Musk had this to say about Apple's car ambitions: "I think it's great they're doing this, and I hope it works out."

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