Updated from 10:02 a.m. to provide more context on $17 billion valuation in the third paragraph.
NEW YORK (TheStreet) –– The automotive industry is innovating more than ever as Tesla Motors (TSLA) takes mindshare away from Ford (F) , General Motors (GM) and Fiat Chrysler (FCAU) , simultaneously forcing the "Detroit 3" to think more creatively about how they build cars.
But while Tesla consistently grabs headlines, one company that may forever alter the entire auto industry and perhaps the entire U.S. economy isn't really a car company: it's Uber.
Must Read: Why Uber Is Worth $17 Billion
San Francisco-based Uber, which recently raised $1 billion for a $17 billion company valuation (and is reportedly looking to raise an additional $1 billion in a convertible-debt offering), sufficiently impressed Morgan Stanley (MS) auto analysts enough to make it the highlight of a research note detailing a recent trip to Detroit to visit Ford, Fiat Chrysler and GM's headquarters. The $17 billion valuation is the second largest for a private company behind only Facebook (FB) , and continues to highlight the fact that consumer-facing technology companies are reaching the $1 billion valuation mark faster than ever.
"The highlight of our trip, however, was the 3 Uber trips we took between meetings," analyst Adam Jonas and his team wrote in the note. "The phenomenon of shared mobility has profound implications that extend far beyond the auto industry."
In short, "shared mobility" allows users to share resources, such as cars, which in turn makes them more valuable. By getting maximum use out of the product, in this case the car, the users extract additional value by operating the care when it might not otherwise be in use.
So if Uber can do that, why can't ordinary folks do it too?
Uber, led by CEO Travis Kalanick, is disrupting both the taxi industry and the auto industry, and potentially other logistics industries as well, by allowing on-demand delivery of a driver to any location from the customer using an app available on your Apple (AAPL) iOS device, Google (GOOGL) Android device or Microsoft (MSFT) Windows Phone. Ford recently had a presentation noting "that alternative mobility/car sharing/ride sharing is the single most disruptive trend to the automotive business model."
Taxi associations around the world have taken to fighting the rise of Uber, petitioning local governments to ban the company and other car-sharing services. Recently, Germany tried to block the use of Uber, and so has the state of Illinois, though it appears these efforts have been unsuccessful. Uber operates in more than 200 cities across more than 40 cities on 5 continents.
The power of the on-demand delivery model is a clear and present danger to existing businesses. It is a disruptor.