Why are the major tech and car companies looking for land around San Francisco?

Google car
Google, Apple, and major car companies all looking for real estate for autonomous car R&D
No one said real estate was inexpensive in San Francisco and the Bay area, ever. But news slipped from a major San Francisco and Silicon Valley commercial landlord that Apple, Google, and several car manufacturers are in the market, big time, according to the Wall Street Journal. Why all the interest? The most likely answer is land for autonomous car development.

During an investor call, Victor Coleman, CEO of Hudson Pacific Properties Inc., said, “We’re seeing the Toyotas of the world, the Teslas of the world, BMWs, Mercedes. Ford now is out in the marketplace looking for space. I haven’t even mentioned the 400,000 square feet that Google’s looking to take down and the 800,000 square feet that Apple’s looking to take down for their autonomous cars as well.”

Perhaps he hadn’t mentioned it before, but he did then. So if Google is looking for about 10 acres and Apple’s seeking 20 acres, give or take, are they building test tracks or what? Certainly they’re not going to build manufacturing plants. Tesla’s Fremont, California plant consumes 5.3 million square feet. Apple’s new headquarters, under construction, will be about 2.8 million square feet, and Google’s takes up 4.8 million square feet.  With the relatively small spaces Coleman mentioned, it’s likely the two companies are looking for research and development space and possibly small test tracks.

And why are Toyota, Ford, Mercedes, BMW, and Tesla also looking for land in northern California? If the center of self-driving R&D right now is Silicon Valley, it stands to reason the major car makers want to be close to the development hub. Even though we live in an increasingly connected world, there’s still much to be gained from physical proximity.

No announcements are forthcoming from the prospective tenants or property owners on exactly what real estate they’re looking for or why they want it, but it all falls together logically in the autonomous car space. It’s no secret Google’s parent company Alphabet and Apple are busy expanding their self-driving car focus in line with the parallel efforts of the major car companies. Chances are any car manufacturer that intends to stay and grow in this business space over the coming decades is already planning and investing heavily in autonomous technology.

If the big car brands want to be near the center of autonomous car action, it sounds like they’d better get busy. The demand for suitable land in California is on the rise.


Driving a prototype 2020 Passat at Volkswagen’s Arizona Proving Ground

Volkswagen’s Arizona Proving Ground is where new cars are tested to the breaking point, including the 2020 Passat midsize sedan. Ride along as the new Passat completes testing ahead of its 2019 launch.
Smart Home

Uber Eats is testing a system for cheaper meal delivery

You know how Uber Pool offers cheaper trips if riders share a car? Well, Uber Eats is currently testing the same idea for meal delivery, and it could mean cheaper orders for customers.

Thinking of opting for a car with a diesel engine? Here's what you need to know

Modern diesel-powered models prove that it is possible to build a clean, efficient diesel engine without sacrificing performance. Here's what you need to know about diesel cars, and how they differ from gasoline-powered models.
Emerging Tech

With this robotic garage, retrieving your car is like using a vending machine

Remembering where we parked our cars can be a real pain. But what if our cars came to find us, rather than the other way around? A new automated robot parking valet system aims to help.

NYC mandates minimum wage for Uber, Lyft, other app-based rideshare drivers

New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission approved a rule that drivers for companies such as Uber and Lyft must be paid at least minimum wage, even though they are independent contractors. The new pay rate includes operating costs.

LM Industries’ autonomous shuttles head to Phoenix, Sacramento campuses

LM Industries will deploy Olli low-speed autonomous shuttles at school campuses in Arizona and California as part of its ongoing "fleet challenge," which asks local groups to propose uses for autonomous vehicles.

McLaren puts the pedal to the metal in special-edition OnePlus 6T

The OnePlus 6T is yet another flagship killer smartphone, bringing powerful specifications to a much lower price than the competition. Now, OnePlus has teamed up with McLaren for the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition.

Bosch’s CES-bound shuttle concept takes us on a trip to a not-too-distant future

Bosch envisions a future in which driverless shuttles occupy their own market segment. The German firm won't build the shuttles, but it wants to provide everything else, ranging from the drive system to the apps used to hail them.
Emerging Tech

A lidar-equipped truck knows exactly how much de-icer to apply on roads

Lidar is best known as the laser-based technology that helps self-driving cars sense their surroundings. But the city of Knoxville has another, more seasonal use for it: De-icing roads.
Product Review

Boring takes a back seat as 2019 Corolla Hatchback mixes fun with practicality

We drive the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback, the latest hatchback to bear the Corolla name. As the best-selling nameplate in automotive history, Toyota has high expectations to meet. This model mostly lives up to the legacy.

Hertz speeds up car rentals with biometric scan technology

Biometric security technology that uses face, fingerprint, and voice recognition is gaining traction, with Hertz emerging as the latest company to incorporate it into its daily operations.
Product Review

Inside Maserati's Levante SUV beats the heart of a Ferrari

Maserati’s luxury SUV gets a shot in the arm by way of Ferrari-derived V8 power, but is it enough to go toe-to-toe with the established players in the high performance sport-utility segment? Let’s find out.

Aston Martin’s 1,000-hp Valkyrie will boast the Mona Lisa of the engine world

Aston Martin has released new details about its F1-inspired Valkyrie hypercar. Co-developed with Red Bull Racing, the Valkyrie will be one of the most aerodynamic production cars ever made.

The redesigned 2020 Passat shows Volkswagen still believes in sedans

The sedan segment in America is shrinking, but Volkswagen still believes in it. The German firm has released a teaser sketch to preview the redesigned 2020 Passat it will introduce during the 2019 Detroit Auto Show.