Daimler CEO Surprised By Apple, Google Progress On Landmark Self-Driving Cars

We've been talking about Apple's secret automotive project for what feels like forever, and despite all that's been reported up to this point, the company has stuck to its guns and remains quiet on the matter. At this point, though, we must imagine that Apple has just about given up on trying to keep things a secret, as it seems we can't go a single day without seeing more proof of it.

The latest bit of "proof" comes from Daimler's CEO Dieter Zetsche who recently paid a visit to Silicon Valley with other senior management members. In talking to German weekly Welt am Sonntag, Zetsche said that during his visit, he was surprised at the sheer amount of progress both Apple and Google have made with their respective projects. "Our impression was that these companies can do more and know more than we had previously assumed. At the same time they have more respect for our achievements than we thought."

Dieter Zetsche

During this same visit, Zetsche and co. met with some 70 other companies - none of which have been named. It's unclear at this point just how it was that Daimler managed to learn so much about Apple's and Google's progress, but it's not hard to imagine that some juicy information came from any one of these 70+ different companies - some of those are no doubt working with either (or both) Apple and Google, after all.

While Zetsche is impressed with the progress of both companies, we learned just this past weekend that Apple has just lost Steve Zadesky, a veteran at the company who was last responsible for heading up its automotive project. Given Zetsche's comments about Apple's progress, it could be that the project is so close to completion that Zadesky didn't feel like he had much more to contribute. Or, it could mean myriad other things - we won't know unless Zadesky himself wants to speak up.

What we do know for sure is that rumors surrounding Apple's automotive projects are not likely to die down soon - at least not until the company finally makes that long-awaited announcement.