Car manufacturers are slowly but surely morphing into technology companies and it's not just upstart manufacturers like Tesla who are trying to piggyback on Silicon Valley's deep pool of engineering and academic talent. General Motors, for example, already has offices in Palo Alto and today, Ford announced that it has also chosen Palo Alto for its new Silicon Valley lab. The company already has research labs in Dearborn, MI; Aachen, Germany; Nanjing, China and Tel Aviv, Israel. The lab will be lead by TJ Giuli, a Ford research engineer and Stanford-alumni who has been working on the forefront of the company's tech efforts for the last few years.
The company hopes that the new lab will "serve as a hub for independent technology projects and identification of new research investments and partners located along the West Coast." It also hopes to develop deeper partnerships with local tech firms and universities. Ford is, for example, already a member of Stanford's Automotive Research at Stanford (CARS) affiliate program.
Ford will hire Silicon Valley talent for its new offices, but also plans to rotate-in engineers from its other locations to work on new in-car technologies and ideas.
The company first announced its plans to open a Silicon Valley office earlier this year, but at that time, it hadn't chosen a location yet. According to the city of Palo Altos' economic development manager Thomas Fehrenbach, the city itself reached out to Ford when it heard about Ford's plans, though chances are that it was already pretty high on Ford's list of possible locations.