Analyst: Apple ‘almost certainly’ exploring making a whole car but there’s a big challenge

“Apple is ‘almost certainly’ exploring how to build an entire car but would likely need to partner with a manufacturer due to the complexities of making a whole vehicle, a top analyst said,” Arjun Kharpal reports for CNBC.

“Gene Munster, who was a widely followed analyst at Piper Jaffray before leaving to launch venture capital firm Loup Ventures, said Apple’s ‘dream car’ would be one where the company owns both the hardware and software like it has done with other products such as the iPhone to create ‘superior’ experiences,” Kharpal reports. “‘In an ideal world, Apple’s car project would involve the company building the actual automobile, combining hardware and software,’ Munster wrote in a blog post on Monday.”

Kharpal reports, “‘In reality, the complexity of designing and manufacturing a vehicle may push the company to integrate deeply with an automotive partner or partners in an effort more similar to the Apple TV — plugging Apple’s technology into an existing product,’ [Munster wrote].”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Jony Ive et al. are “car guys.” Car guys are not going to be satisfied plopping their software into random Fords. They’re going to want to design their own vehicle(s) or they’re not going to be interested, fully engaged, or properly invested.

SEE ALSO:
Right now, the ‘Apple Car’ is a 2015 Lexus RX 450h SUV – April 17, 2017
Gene Munster on Apple Car: Exploration does not mean a product comes to market – April 17, 2017
Apple’s Project Titan: California makes it official – April 17, 2017
Why you should get your self-driving car from Apple – April 17, 2017
Apple secures permit to test autonomous vehicles – April 15, 2017
Apple’s letter to the U.S. NHTSA reveals 30-year Detroit veteran on its stealth ‘Project Titan’ team – December 8, 2016
Apple files patent for autonomous vehicle collision avoidance system – December 8, 2016
Apple letter all but confirms plans for self-driving cars and commitment to privacy – December 5, 2016
Apple drops hints about autonomous-vehicle project in letter to U.S. transportation regulators – December 3, 2016
It’s not McLaren Racing, but McLaren Applied Technologies, that’s the apple of Apple’s eye – September 23, 2016
Apple-target McLaren is a tech company disguised as a carmaker – September 22, 2016
Supercar-maker McLaren says not in discussion with Apple ‘in respect of any potential investment’ – September 22, 2016
Apple in talks to acquire British supercar maker McLaren – September 21, 2016
Apple in talks to acquire electric vehicle-maker Lit Motors – September 21, 2016
Gene Munster gives up the Apple Television ghost – May 19, 2015

17 Comments

  1. Another R&D unicorn John Sculley style. Meanwhile, Apple’s main product base suffers: we need a new operating system to replace the aging OS X and iOS, along with a new class of devices.

    The desktop is waiting to be reinvented. Perhaps a startup will disrupt the order, or Microsoft: Microsuck has the elements in place of one operating system and a new class if devices (Surface Studio PC). They just have to execute, something they suck at.

    1. It’s difficult to execute a Surface studio like product that isn’t expensive, under powered and sorely limited in reality so in that regard they executed it perfectly. If Apple had executed it they would have accordingly been slammed for creating a highly limited gimmick on that basis. Of course Microsoft operates in a whole different world where objectivity has no place whatsoever and unquestioning acolytes are the dominant species.

      Back to the cars though, it very much depends on what sort of market Apple will initially address as to their ability to fulfil that particular dream mostly in house.

  2. While I would love to own and drive an Apple Car, this whole experiment seems like a boondoggle of sorts. It’s a way to spend a tremendous amount of cash that’s distracting the company from macs, iPhones, iPads, AppleTV, and more importantly the next big thing.

    I don’t think Apple is prepared to make the investment in automotive manufacturing, parts suppliers, subcontractors, etc. Then there’s sales, warranty, maintenance, etc.

    Focus on expanding the echo-system. That doesn’t start with the car. Frankly, I think it starts with the home.

    1. What? You mean there isnt an unlimited supply of electricity at our fingertips? Who Knew?

      Oh, wait! Just call Unicorn Rainbow Electric! They will beam it to you from the planet Jupiter!

      There, that problem is solved! Whew!

      1. Did you read in the news that last week, for a few hours, California actually produced MORE electricity from renewable sources than from fossil fuels? You can laugh at — it was only for a few hours. But it is nevertheless n amazing milestone: it actually happened, when most people would not think it possible. And it seems like an important harbinger of things to come. Maybe even a tipping point.

        The future started years ago.

        1. Most people don’t even know where their electricity comes from, and don’t care. Renewable sources of electricity are continuing to expand and will eventually dominate the power grid. The tipping point – cost competitiveness – has already occurred despite the temporarily low cost of fossil fuels.

          The renewable energy doubters are vocal. The renewable energy doubters are loud. And the renewable energy doubters are dead wrong in essentially every respect. The United States should be leading on renewable energy, not attempting to double down on coal and other fossil fuels.

          Oil and natural gas are both far too valuable resources to burn for heat and electricity. We need them for chemical manufacturing, lubrication, etc. Given the current state of battery development, ICE-powered vehicles will also be needed for long range/high load applications for the next couple of decades. We need to begin prioritizing and focusing fossil fuel use on areas in which those resources are indispensable rather than ignorantly converting billions of barrels of oil and trillions of cubic feet of natural gas to thermal energy, CO2, and water vapor.

          1. Agree with your points (and thanks too KingMel for not being bombastic today). Renewables are now cost competitive with fossil fuels.

            I’ve become a recent strong supporter though not because I’m a tree hugger (to each their own, but it isn’t my motivation), rather, because pulling energy from the Sun and other sources doesn’t fund unstable State actors who typically are aligned with “destroying” the United States. Deprive them of their primary income and we will all be safer as a result (Venezuela, Iran, Iraq, Russia, Saudi Arabia, etc). Oh.. and cleaner air or a different temperature curve in the next century is a nice benefit.

        2. The same thing happened in Texas on a particularly windy day a year or two ago. This state generates the cheapest oil and gas in the country, but renewables are still commercially competitive.

          There is already at least one Texas city that is supplying 100% green energy to its utility customers at rates competitive with neighboring systems (including ones using local natural gas or lignite). This is not tree-hugger country, but one of the most conservative Republican parts of the state… and therefore the nation. Green energy is not a liberal cause.

          Even in areas relying on fossil-fuel generated electricity, fuel cost for electric vehicles is much lower than burning the fuel locally in an internal-combustion engine. If somebody can solve the problem of quick-charge storage, electric cars will drive internal combustion off the roads as fast as gasoline engines killed the Stanley Steamer.

      2. What don’t you get about….no going to the gas station, no transmission, no exhaust system and associated platinum, no engine filters, spark plugs, oil filters, oil, gaskets, pumps, fans, belts, hoses, radiators, hall sensors, starter motors….and on and on.

        Had my Tesla 2.5 years…..cost me pocket change to run, my brake pads still 80% (hardly ever use brakes), service cost me a total of $800 (over 2.5 years), still runs like new, been on long distance journeys thanks to super charger network.

        When I get my solar roof and battery it’ll be even better.

  3. @MDN Take®: Bullcrap. Just because Jony and some of the other folks are “car people” does not mean that they long to design an entire vehicle from scratch – chassis, suspension, power train, etc.

    In my opinion, Jony would be primarily interested in the vehicle interior and exterior aesthetics and the UI – so the skin panels, seats and interior, and dash/controls along with the software that would provide the desired functionality.

    Naturally, Apple would be interested in a higher end, luxury vehicle. So Apple will seek to partner with a high end car maker to “customize” a model under development – Lexus for example, since that fits in with Apple’s recent autonomous vehicle application in CA, or Tesla, or Infiniti, or BMW. In terms of cost, this approach would have massive advantages, much like rebadging a car design across several makes (which manufacturers like GM already do). The core of the vehicle (chassis, power train, suspension, etc.) would be designed and tested according to established protocols for performance, comfort, and safety. Then Apple would sprinkle in its magic.

    I do not believe that Apple will design and build an entire vehicle unless they buy into or acquire a car company like Tesla which has already laid the groundwork.

    1. Speaking as an industrial designer I find it highly unlikely that Jony would not want to do the full car. Chassis, body, engine, power train, suspension, as well as the interior physical controls, seating and UI. It’s all one thing. You lose the integrity of the design if you do not approach it from the whole.

  4. Jean-Louis Gasse wrote 2 years ago that it takes a $10 billion annual market opportunity to move the needle at Apple.

    Last year, Daimler had revenue of 153 billion euros delivering 3 million units, netting 9 billion euros. Ford did $151 billion during the same period.

    So the projection suggests they plan to run an enterprise at that scale. I’d enjoy reading an analysis with reasonable timelines for bringing this brand to the nations roadways with the same level of integrity as its digital products and services.

    1. Is that why Apple is so diligently working on Apple TV, making it the best it could be?

      Oh, and that world domiating Apple Watch. Cook knew that would be a big seller, that’s why he hired Ms. Fashion to push all those dusty unloved Macs to the back of every store and paid Ive millions to design watch display cases.

      I think what you mean to say is that somebody at Apple has to flush $10 billion down the toilet before clueless Cook notices. By now Apple has probably spent that much on its automotive toys. The end result is CarPlay — and the only reason Apple did it is because Google moved there first.

      Way too much lazy management at Apple these days. Apple will never make a complete car because nobody at Apple has the intestinal fortitude to manage such a complex product, improve it consantly in the face of powerful competition, and support customers with parts and service for many years after initial purchase. The auto industry is less profitable than cell phones because the competition is dramatically more intense. Apple wouldn’t stand a chance given its current lack of ability to keep the Mac fresh.

  5. I came across the following video a few weeks ago. Airbus has envisioned one of the most unique approaches to future transportation I’ve ever seen. Their system will incorporate different transportation modules depending upon the situation. For example, short traveled distances will utilize traditional electric cars. Medium distances will combine a part of the electric car, the pod compartment, with a drone module, and longer distances will combine the pod compartment with tube trains.

    Will Apple do something similar?

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