Why Tim Cook would want to build an Apple Car

“Could Apple build its own car? Without a doubt,” Chris Maxcer writes for TechNewsWorld. “The question is, would Apple want to?”

Apple CEO “Cook has been saying for years — in various ways — that Apple chooses to build products that delight and impact people’s lives,” Maxcer writes. “When you pair that straightforward goal with Cook’s apparent passion for a more environmentally friendly Apple — case in point, the recent $850 million investment in solar energy to power Apple’s operations in California — the notion of building an electric car starts to fit into Cook’s Apple.”

“Not only do cars have massive room for improvement around design, simplicity, and efficiency, there is also great room for user-based improvements,” Maxcer writes. “A car represents a starting point for a very worthy challenge for Apple. Could Apple make cars safer? More energy-efficient? Quite possibly.”

Read more in the full article here.

Related articles:
Apple working on self-driving electric car, source says – February 14, 2015
Apple’s project ‘Titan’ gears up to challenge Tesla in electric cars – February 13, 2015
Apple’s next big thing: The Apple Car? – February 13, 2015
Apple hiring auto engineers and designers – February 13, 2015

90 Comments

      1. “nailed it” – just plain stupid, no way. Now would they make a custom “entertainment system” that auto makers could install, perhaps…but an actual car??? Where do people get this stuff?

        1. It seems crazy, but like a fox I think.

          Like personal computing and communication, transportation has a large consumer marketplace and is heading to a place where integrated software/hardware will be a big advantage.

          Also, Apple just needs to grow. Their talents are wasted if they just keep trying to grow the iPhone market another few percent each year (it will saturate) or keep adding little satellite markets (Apple Watch will do great, but nowhere near iPhones revenues).

          Cars are a huge huge business that would actually show up on Apple’s bottom line and challenge the company again.

          1. Agreed. I don’t know whether this is true or not, but the car industry is at a cross roads and the electric car revolution is ripe for new entries by non-conventional players. Tesla has entered and there is definite room for innovation. The IC engine has been with us, practically unchanged, for over 100 years. The barrier to entry for cars is suddenly far, far lower. You no longer need to develop and design a mini-factory to put into a car. The electric motor is relatively simple in comparison.

            Apple entered the phone market by adding computers and great batteries and changing the way people viewed mobile communication devices.

            It may sound crazy, but isn’t that in Apple’s DNA?

      2. To u maybe !
        Or are u speaking on everones behalf ?

        Apple spent 3 billion on beats..
        It takes aprox 1 billion to develope a new car.. With a another billion to tool it and take it to market !

        Even if the car never makes it to market…. What apple learns and discovers through the process ( which will trickle its way to other products ) will make it a worthwhile venture !
        let alone if they trully creat something cool at the same time utilitarian and efficient !

          1. A whole lot of people have wondered the same thing. There are only two possible explanations. One, they had money to burn and were roundly criticised for doing nothing with it, so with no other ideas they started spending wildly just to shut up the critics. Two, they had a long-term strategic direction requiring outside expertise that was becoming attractive to competitors so they pulled the trigger early.

      3. I hear yah TM but this IS a new wholly upgraded day and this is an Apple with plenty of resources, cash and confidence.

        And when has Apple been afraid to think differently outside the box? Everything they’ve come out with since 2007 we all might have been in denial with at one time too. Now we’re pretty much true believers as is most of the rest of the world. Never say never. 🙂

      4. Stupid reaction. Steve Jobs professed a desire to build a car. And it’s no rumour. Apple has already assembled a team of one hundred auto engineers and designers. Thelonious, you often say smart things here. This isn’t one of them.

      1. Well let us see!

        in 5 or 10 years, if it happens, average new car would cost about $40-$50,000. Probably many people would be interested to buy an apple car.

        Don’t forget. When a computer company (apple) wanted to make a cell phone, every one was thought it was a joke. When they made the first iPhone for $650.00, other phone companies thought apple phone would never get off the ground.

        So anything may happen.

        By the way, a brand new Oldsmobile cutlass in 1965 had an MSRP $2,200.00

        1. I “left” San Diego in 1971 to go to school in Northern California. I see in my minds eye the image of a new car sale sign for a Volkswagen at $1995.00.

          Could Apple make a car.? Yes.

          Could they learn a significant amount about the needs of an automobile user by going through the exercise of designing a car? Definitely yes.

          Did they design and build a phone before deciding to offer a phone for sale? I am sure they did. Was there always the possibility that they would not sell that phone. I am pretty sure there was.

          I am sure there are many things Apple investigates without releasing actual products. I would expect nothing less, especially from a company like Apple with all the money in the world.

          1. My late father paid just over $1,700 for a VW Beetle in 1963, and $2,400 for a Toyota Corona in 1972. And some of my college dorm mates in 1970 were itching to buy the new Datsun 240Z starting at $3,600. So yeah, prices have gone up quite a bit since.

            But could Apple go into this business? Yeah, if they were prepared drop a few billion dollars to start, could find a suitable contract manufacture , and was willing to sacrifice their traditional margins. And isn’t that what holds them back from making a full-blown Apple television, that it’s a commodity product with razor-thin margins? Even the high-priced Tesla isn’t making money.

            So I’ll stick to my suspicion that Apple is simply trying to better understand what holds today’s automobiles back from being more emotionally engaging and satisfying products. Then they’ll make the hardware and software for the manufacturers, who are happy to make less per car than Apple clears on an iMac.

            1. Prices haven’t gone up. They’re cheaper than they used to be in relation to the wages people earn.

              Money has, over time, become less valuable… because the only way you can keep a society based on consumerism going is yearly inflation.

          2. In 1965 a new Mustang fastback, 289, 4 speed was $2400. A new Corvette was $5000. Minimum wage was $1.30. Move the decimal places one place to the right on all of those and you can see what’s wrong with America today.

        2. Dudes,

          My Honda Civic costs $120,000 and the luxury tax is $68,000 at last auction (I think, been a while since I checked) or $6,800 per year for 10 years payable on purchase.

          I would expect an Apple Car to be around $240 to $280,000 + another $60-$80,000 tax…and I would be one of the first in line to buy. Assuming I could get the 40% down payment required to purchase before I could get my 10 year loan.

          Then it’s electric… And that’s the most expensive utility here… And my condo car park has no charging stations.

          Oh, well.

            1. How is that relevant? The point is that people complain about prices, but I have stopped complaining. I just live. And I live in the most expensive city in the world. More expensive than Tokyo, New York, Dubai. That’s Singapore. I’m saying: Enjoy these items cuz you can afford it.

            1. Welcome to Singapore! The most expensive city in the world! Now, you must remember, that $120K does NOT include the TAX. The COE tax today on this car is $92K. This brings the total cost of the car to $212K. That on a 10 year loan at 5% APR…on $106K (you must put 50% down or they will not sell it to you) brings your payments to approximately $1500/month. Plus petrol to fill the tank at about $90/week.

  1. Apple is not just a computer company anymore but apparently some people & anal-cysts missed the memo issued years ago. They can and will do anything they have a mind to. And lots of people will buy into it. By and large they have this intangible thing hard to get – trust.

    1. Apple is a software + services company that happens to wrap its software / services in beautiful hardware. When you think about it, that’s where cars are eventually headed. So it’s right up Apple’s alley.

      1. Cars are ungainly things full of moving mechanical parts. Apple’s unwaveringly been moving toward products with fewer of these pretty much since it quit making printers.

        Still, Apple’s smarter and richer than I am and there is some smoke here and. The question is who’s blowing it and why…

  2. The first step is to re-think the “user interface” for a car, not design the whole vehicle. That’s what has the biggest impact on the user experience for a typical car customer. I think Apple will do that first, using a technical design for a hybrid electric vehicle from an existing automaker, and have that automaker manufacture it.

    Then, Apple can begin to influence the overall design of its “branded” cars, until they are truly “Apple Cars.”

    For example, why can’t a car design be more flexible about the power source? Create a “base” design that is essentially an all-electric vehicle. The design has standardized space for a “power module,” which must be occupied with something. But that something is flexible. For a hybrid, the module has a small gas engine with fuel tank, which charges the car’s main (built-in) battery as needed. For a “hydrogen” car, the module is a fuel cell. For an all-electric, the module contains additional battery capacity to extend range. The customer can drive the car into the “Apple Store,” and switch one type of power module for another, or upgrade to a better version made by a third-party. A “Mr. Fusion” module may be invented… 🙂

      1. Got to agree with you. Mac Minis have become less upgradable. Mac Pro GPUs cannot be upgraded now.

        What good is a high end PC for high end graphics and scientific computing if the GPUs can’t be upgraded every year. No way can I afford to replace a MacPro every year.

        1. Yeah, as neat as the new Mac Pro form factor is, it makes it impossible to upgrade a graphics card. The only other way is an external graphics card, which can be done with a Firmtek Thundertek enclosure and a power supply if you’re willing to edit three kext files.

          Also, the Mac Mini used to have an option to add a dedicated graphics card, but that was retracted a couple years ago. It seems like Apple is deliberately making its hardware lacking in the graphics department.

      2. But Apple IS “famous” for having a small number of models in a product line, with various configurations. So, unlike GM which has DOZENS of different car models across its brands, Apple would have something like four (smaller, bigger, sporty, and luxury). That would align with car designs that have easily “swappable” power modules as a way to configure.

      1. Is there some reason that they can’t be integrated at the same time? Why would you develop a product in serial steps like that? Is there some internal constraint at Apple that no one here can see?

        What many of us do see is that Apple has royally screwed many loyal Mac users with poor hardware and software decisions in the past 5 years.

        That’s why the stupid rumor that Apple will be even considering building cars is ludicrous. Fix OS X and iOS before attempting to tackle a product with an order of magnitude more complexity and regulations wrapped into it.

  3. Yeah but it’s defensive too. The more the car becomes a tech center the more Apple needs to be in it. If Ford or tesla can lockout Apple any time they feel like it, Apple needs to be ready with their own offering. Not having a car is a good way for Apple to be post-peak by the mid 2020’s.

  4. So can we change analyst headlines from “Apple branded TV” to “Apple branded car” now? I’m also very curious to know in great detail how this unannounced and unconfirmed product will be Apple’s downfall.
    Having said that, as far as pure speculation goes, this is hardly the worst. The whole “industry ripe for picking” theme fits perfectly. And I’ll be first in line for a car that looks like the Paisley iMac… (close second is Bondi blue… I want to see that engine!)

  5. I know the auto-industry was somewhat of an obsession with Jobs in his later days, but I’m not sure why Apple wouldn’t buy/merge/partner with Tesla. The companies seem so incredibly aligned in so many ways. It makes a lot more sense than trying to poach engineers back and forth and fight over recruitment as well as other resources.

    When you take a look at what Tesla needs to grow, Apple brings to the table. When you take a look at what Apple would need to get started, Tesla already has.

    Their market cap is only $25 Billion. Think about that for a second, if Apple could turn Tesla into a company that made an annual profit of $1.45 Billion, that $25 billion would have a higher ROI than Apple’s own business.

    They’re even located close by.

    1. While I have enormous respect for Tesla, one of the things that makes Apple Apple is that they rethink everything for themselves from the ground up.

      Buying Tesla would come with a huge amount of baggage in terms of Tesla’s choices, existing models, existing customers.

      No way would Apple ever enter a market like that.

    2. Apple designs custom chips, Apple doesn’t make them. Apple DESIGNS, not manufactures, anything. If Apple is involved in autos, Apple will design, supply technology, expertise, integration, and that special Apple magic; others will manufacture it! 😀

  6. Apple is a “systems” company. From this perspective, the rumor makes complete sense. Making a whole car would be a complete system and Apple is at their best when they make their own hardware and software and control their own ecosystem. I recall Jobs also redefining the company as a “mobile” company when they dropped “Computer” from their name. At a 30,000 ft level, this is a no brainer. From an operational standpoint, this is also quite conceivable with their superior supply management. And god knows the automotive industry is ripe for disruption. Wouldnt that be something if this turned into Apple vs. Tesla just like Apple vs. Microsoft.

  7. Yes, and they should make toasters and tractors and printers and build homes and ice cream sandwiches and shoes and womens underwear and chewing gum and toilet paper and gay wedding paraphanalia and sex toys and hamster cages.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.