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Why Google May Buy Ford Someday

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Sometimes I engage in a silly exercise of who might buy whom based strictly on market cap.

In playing the game early this week I noticed Google (GOOG) is now worth about $240 billion, and Ford Motor (F) is worth just under $52 billion. Google could buy Ford more than four times over.

The idea sounds ridiculous until you realize how much work Google has been doing on self-driving cars the last few years. Then it just gets far-fetched.

The fact is car companies and tech companies are growing closer. Google now has a deal with Hyundai to put its Google Maps into select vehicles, TalkingPointsMemo reports, starting this year. All car companies have been increasing the amount of electronics in their cars. It's a relatively cheap upgrade that can add significantly to the price and perceived value.

Car companies are also getting more serious about autonomy, which is what they call the way-stations on the way to self-driving cars. At the Consumer Electronics Show this week Toyota's (TM) Lexus division announced an "active safety" concept car, equipped with lasers, cameras and radar that make a driver more like an airline pilot, reports Automobilemag. Drivers are technically in charge but more and more of the work is being done by the computer.

KPMG has a white paper out on driverless cars. It sees regulatory, design and market changes bringing self-driving cars to the market by 2025.

The KPMG paper is filled with pictures of happy young executives in back seats smiling over iPads, but I think the market reality is different. Once these vehicles become available, I can easily see drunk drivers sentenced to using them, and older drivers being pushed into them by their worried offspring. Even semi-autonomous cars -- like those Toyota is working on now -- might, once they come down in price, be scooped up by driving schools. Those deals might push new drivers toward them.

Avis' (CAR) recently announced purchase of Zipcar (ZIP) is another marker on this road. Why should a Zipcar sit at a train station waiting for its driver? Why couldn't it come to you? If it's already coming to you, why couldn't you plug in your destination and just act as a back-up on the way there?

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