There's a measure of exasperation in Colin Barnden's voice as he discusses global supplier Magna International's decision to acquire auto-tech upstart Veoneer. Barnden, principal analyst at Semicast Research, believes Veoneer should have been scooped up long ago.
By Magna. By anybody. It's a company, he says, that represents nothing less than the automotive future. In his view, it has been a diamond shining in plain sight.
"This is an absolute masterstroke for Magna," he said. "The question shouldn't be 'Why did they buy Veoneer?' It's 'Why didn't Bosch buy Veoneer?' Where was everybody else?"
At first glance, the pending $3.8 billion (all figures in USD) acquisition reshapes the landscape for advanced driver-assist systems. Bosch accounts for 20 per cent of the market, according to Semicast Research figures. Combined, Magna and Veoneer will hold 17 per cent of the market, with Continental close behind at 16 per cent.
But there's something deeper afoot than a reshuffling of the business leader board. While Wall Street and the auto industry's biggest companies remain entranced by the potential of self-driving technology, this deal signals, at least in personally owned vehicles, humans will remain behind the wheel for a long time.
"I'm not going to say autonomy will never happen," Barnden said. "Never is a long time. But if you are talking about it in a widespread way with large volume, it looks to me like two to three decades and not two to three years."
Perhaps that's jarring to anyone who believes full self-driving capabilities are an over-the-air update away. Such a forecast, it turns out, is not a radical departure from the one offered by Magna itself.