Tech Transformers

We're better at car tech than Silicon Valley: Cadillac president

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Cadillac can go toe-to-toe with Silicon Valley giants like Apple and Google on creating future automobile technology, the president of the luxury car firm told CNBC on Tuesday, as he revealed a new shared car ownership product.

Google has been working on driverless car technology while Apple was rumored to be interested in jumping into the auto space too. Both have their own in-car operating systems as well. Earlier this year, Alphabet-owned Google partnered with Fiat Chrysler to develop self-driving minivan prototypes.

Johan de Nysschen, president of Cadillac, told CNBC he would not rule out partnerships with any of these firms, but the luxury carmaker is able to develop its own high-quality technology capabilities in house, he said.

"I think that in the future there may indeed be a market for autonomous driving enabled vehicles that provide transportation from A to B, but that's not the market Cadillac is in. We are a luxury brand we want to offer all of the benefits but we want to do it in an emotionally engaging way," De Nysschen told CNBC in an interview at the Web Summit technology conference in Lisbon.

"I know it sounds like a bold claim, but we know as much about connectivity and autonomous driving and technologies as any of the companies in Silicon Valley, we also know a lot more about integrating these into automobiles and we also know a lot more about developing and manufacturing automobiles. Which I think still gives us a very strong competitive position."

Shared ownership service on the way

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The Cadillac president also revealed to CNBC that the company is working on a new shared ownership model. De Nysschen said that ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft are "brand agnostic" and about functionality.

"That is not quite Cadillac. But it doesn't mean that we can't cultivate a product and a way of owning a Cadillac that allows people who want to move from A to B in the luxury of a Cadillac, has all the safety and connectivity benefits … That is some of the exciting things that our teams area working on," De Nysschen said.

He added that the product is likely to be a shared ownership model where you can "buy access into Cadillac ownership and have guaranteed availability of a variety of Cadillac models either for yourself to drive or be driven in".

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De Nysschen would not elaborate but said that this is "under development".

Last year, General Motors, the owner of Cadillac, launched its own car sharing program called Maven, which allowed people to rent Chevrolet, Cadillac, and Buick vehicles, by the hour.

At Web Summit on Tuesday, Nissan announced a shared ownership scheme which allows people to part-own a new Micra. Nissan said this would launch in Paris later this year with cars expected on the road by 2017. The service uses social profiling and location technology to match compatible owners who together will jointly own a car.

The trend is part of automakers' efforts to adapt to new ownership models being borne out of services like Uber and Lyft. Many carmakers admit that in the future, a larger portion of people won't want to own cars but instead share them.