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Daimler CEO leaves door open to 'different types' of partnerships with Apple, Google

Daimler is open to "different types" of cooperation with Apple and Google, with the understanding their technology could be essential to future cars, Daimler's CEO said in a magazine interview published on Friday.

"Many things are conceivable," Dieter Zetsche told Deutsche Unternehmerboerse, as quoted by Reuters. The executive observed that Apple and Google want to provide system software for vehicles, and bring their respective ecosystems there.

"That can be interesting for both sides," Zetsche remarked.

One option for Daimler might be a joint venture with tech firms, he added, but with the caution that his comments are "purely theoretical," and that the company won't let itself be reduced to a manufacturer of Apple and Google vehicles.

"We don't want to become contractors who have no direct content with customers any more and supply hardware to third parties," Zetsche concluded.

Apple and Google already have minor footprints in the automotive world in the form of standards like CarPlay and Android Auto, but are believed to have much bigger ambitions. Google has been openly developing a self-driving car platform for years, and Apple appears to be headed in the same direction under its Project Titan effort.

Traditional car companies are also exploring self-driving vehicles, but may need help from tech firms in areas like interfaces, mapping, and artificial intelligence. On the flip side, both Apple and Google have been rumored as wanting to partner with automakers, given their lack of experience with car design and the expense and complexity of manufacturing.