Is Apple getting ready to become the next Tesla? It sure feels like it — rumors that the massively profitable Mac and iPhone maker would step into the automotive industry started swirling in earnest this February. It's not clear whether Apple is going to build an electric car like Tesla or a self-driving car like Google has been testing — and any car the company does make is likely many years away — but when there's this much smoke around a future Apple project, there's often fire.
Jul 25, 2016
Apple is going back to its old hardware boss to run the biggest hardware project it has ever attempted. Bob Mansfield, Apple's former hardware engineering chief, has taken over the Apple Car project, known internally as "Project Titan," according to The Wall Street Journal.Read Article >
Mansfield stepped down from his day-to-day role on the executive team at Apple in 2013 after 14 years with the company, with reports at the time stating that he would work on special projects. But according to the Journal, Mansfield was rarely seen on campus until recently, when employees noticed that project managers for Project Titan were now reporting to Mansfield.
Jul 21, 2016
The anticipated ship date for the rumored Apple car has been pushed back by a year to 2021, according to a report from The Information. Prior reports had claimed 2020 was the timeline for initial production.Read Article >
There are so many rumors about the Apple car floating around at this point, it’s easy to see how you might have wondered if it was launching this fall. But building a car from scratch is a fantastically difficult proposition, especially for a company as detail-obsessed as Apple. Where another carmaker might say "that’s good enough, ship it," Apple could spend years refining the design (or decide to kill it altogether).
May 25, 2016
Apple is exploring methods to charge electric cars, according to Reuters, adding more credence to ongoing reports that Apple is developing an electric car. The report says Apple "appears to be laying the groundwork for the infrastructure" related to electric car operations.Read Article >
Reuters says Apple has reached out to charging station companies to discuss their "underlying technology," and that Apple is focused on car development, not just implementing charging stations for its employees. The charging station companies are said to be wary of sharing too much information with a potential rival.
Apr 20, 2016
Apple won't officially confirm that it's working on an electric, semi-autonomous car, but if the rumors are true it could need to partner with a seasoned car company to help it navigate the tricky and expensive world of automobile manufacturing. Today the list of potential partners just got a little shorter. BMW and Daimler have discontinued negotiations with Apple over the tech giant's rumored car, codenamed "Project Titan," according to German business publication Handelsblatt.Read Article >
"Industry sources" tells Handelsblatt that the automakers left the negotiating table over disagreements related to — what else? — control and data. "Apple wants the car to be closely built into its own cloud software, while the German carmakers have made customer data protection a key element of their future strategy," the magazine posits.
Mar 15, 2016
If you're a longtime reader of The Verge, Engadget, or any of a dozen other publications that have been following consumer tech for the past few years, you're likely familiar with Gene Munster, a research analyst with investment bank Piper Jaffray. Hoo boy, are you ever familiar with him! Apple Car Fans has the "exclusive" on new comments from Munster about the Apple's automotive ambitions, and you're going to want to tune in, because he's got the scoop.Read Article >
Jan 8, 2016
First discovered by MacRumors, Apple seems to have secured the apple.car, apple.cars, and apple.auto domains, all of which could obviously be related to the company's rumored entry into the car market. Though domain records can be falsified, it's unlikely here: the domain WHOIS entries make reference to MarkMonitor, an intermediary that protects brands from domain squatting.Read Article >
Assuming they're genuine, there are many plausible explanations for the registrations that don't directly involve the development of an Apple car — Apple, as with many large companies, registers a wide variety of domains as a proactive measure against squatting and customer confusion. (It owns apple.audio, for instance.) And then there's the fact that Apple is already in the car business as it ramps up the deployment of CarPlay, its in-car phone connectivity system.
Nov 4, 2015
In a video interview with Bloomberg, Nest founder Tony Fadell says that he and Steve Jobs had toyed with the idea of building a car back in 2008, when Fadell was a senior executive at Apple and the iPhone was gaining momentum. "We had a couple walks, and this was in 2008, about if we were to build a car, what would we build? What would a dashboard be? What would seats be? How would you fuel or power it?" he says.Read Article >
It's unclear exactly how seriously Fadell and Jobs took the idea, but it would appear that it never progressed beyond a couple conversations. Of course, Jobs ultimately decided to punt on it — "At the end, it was always like, we're so busy, we're so constrained... it'd be great to do it, but we can't," Fadell says. But rumors are now pointing to new efforts at Tim Cook's Apple to put a car on roads before the decade is out, possibly as early as 2019 with a fully electric powerplant and a mix of autonomous technology.
Oct 19, 2015
It's an open secret that Apple has been aggressively poaching employees from a variety of industries as it ramps up to make a car, which feels more of an inevitability by the day. For a huge corporation, poaching isn't necessarily a death sentence — but for a startup, brain drain can spell the end. Take Mission Motors, for instance, a boutique manufacturer of electric motorcycles that was left "in the dust" by recruiting from Apple, Reuters reports, citing sources.Read Article >
Sep 18, 2015
A new report today from The Guardian says that Apple met with several officials at California's Department of Motor Vehicles last month to discuss self-driving cars. The DMV tells the paper that "the Apple meeting was to review [the] DMV's autonomous vehicle regulations," though the exact topics of discussion aren't known. Attendees included a member of Apple's senior legal team — logical, considering how deeply involved lawmaking will be in the future of autonomous driving — plus a handful of the DMV's self-driving advocates and its chief counsel.Read Article >
Aug 15, 2015
The Guardian had a great scoop this week revealing that Apple is actively scouting locations for testing self-driving cars near its Cupertino headquarters. That would strongly suggest the company is moving forward with a rumored plan to make cars — possibly in search of continued growth as its traditional (and ridiculously successful) businesses level out.Read Article >
While there's enough evidence in aggregate at this point to say confidently that Apple is working on cars in some substantial capacity, we still don't have the smoking gun there there'll be an actual Apple-branded car on the streets that you and I can buy directly from Apple, just as you would a Tesla. There are a number of other possibilities that are still in the running — Apple could want to build a car platform, for instance, just as Google seems to be doing, without making or selling cars itself. Or it could be developing technologies that it can license and sell to existing automakers.
Aug 14, 2015
Apple is already scouting for locations to test its self-driving car, The Guardian has learned through a public records act request. According to the report, Apple engineers involved with the project met with representatives of a massive, 5,000-acre former naval base near San Francisco called GoMentum Station back in May.Read Article >
GoMentum Station is owned by the Contra Costa Transportation Authority, and is a major testing ground for connected and autonomous vehicles. It's full of highway overpasses, empty roads, tunnels, and train crossings, and companies like Acura, Mercedes-Benz, and Honda already test their own self-driving cars there. So it makes sense that Apple is interested in using the facility to test its own autonomous vehicle program.
Jul 20, 2015
According to his LinkedIn account and The Wall Street Journal, Apple has hired former Chrysler SVP Doug Betts into its "Operations" department. We've been seeing rising rumors and hints about an Apple car since February, capped off with Apple's own senior VP of operations saying that "the car is the ultimate mobile device" at the Code Conference this past May. Apple has previously been rumored to be hiring car experts and was even sued by an electric car battery maker for stealing its employees.Read Article >
Betts, though, is an interesting choice if you just look at how he left his last job: amid problems at Chrysler. Betts was the "global head of operations - product and service quality" for the car company, yet left Chrysler in October of 2014 after it received poor quality rankings in Consumer Reports. It should be said, though, that Betts faced a tough task trying to improve quality ratings at Chrysler. Before that, he worked at Nissan and Toyota in similar, quality-focused roles. According to his LinkedIn page, he had a role in the supply chain portion of those businesses as well. So, definitely a car guy, definitely works for Apple now. The pieces are not difficult to put together, though of course that's no guarantee anything will actually happen.
May 27, 2015
This requires a bit of reading between the lines, but Jeff Williams, Apple's senior VP of operations, made an interesting remark about the auto industry during his chat at Code Conference today that won't do much to quell rumors of an Apple Car. Speaking to Walt Mossberg, Williams called the car "the ultimate mobile device," directly responding to an audience question about what Apple might do with its almost unfathomably large pile of cash:Read Article >
Of course, Apple is already heavily engaged in expanding into the car — widely seen as one of the next battlefronts for tech giants — through CarPlay, which will be rolled out by many of the world's biggest automakers over the coming year. But CarPlay already exists; responding vaguely to a question about cash reserves by talking up a present-day product doesn't seem like the direction Williams was going. More likely, he was either playing along with the rumor mill, or — rare for Apple — he dropped a legitimate hint about a car in Apple's future.
Mar 10, 2015
With the Apple Watch now out in the open, shareholders have already begun to press Apple CEO Tim Cook for the next big thing. At the company's annual shareholders meeting today, investors had one particular idea in mind: Apple buying Tesla.Read Article >
"We don't really have a relationship with them," Cook said, wearily, after being asked about Apple's ties to Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk. "I'd love Tesla to pick up CarPlay. We now have every major auto brand committing to use CarPlay, and maybe Tesla would want to do that."
Feb 19, 2015
Cars are hard. They take a long time to design and build — especially when you've never made one before. That's underscored today by a new report from Bloomberg suggesting that Apple could be looking to put its rumored car on the road "as early" as 2020. Recent rumors peg the company to have kicked off R&D on a vehicle last year, which would give Apple's team somewhere between five and six years to sort everything out. (For comparison's sake, Apple's first internal conversations about building a phone happened somewhere around 2004, three years prior to the iPhone's release in 2007.)Read Article >
Little is known about the actual vehicle, and it's entirely possible that Apple hasn't finalized the design yet. (Last week's Wall Street Journal report noted that the current design is minivan-like, which is an admittedly odd first choice.) There's some debate as to whether the car will be fully autonomous, but all indications are that it will be fully electric — a number of recent hires from EV battery maker A123 Systems is solid evidence to that effect.
Feb 19, 2015
The employees in question worked in A123's research and development department and were responsible for, among other things, "developing and testing new battery technology." A123 claims that one of the five employees named in the lawsuit helped Apple recruit others. The company adds that all five individuals were working under contracts with noncompete and nondisclosure obligations, and that their departure has forced to A123 to shut down the projects they were responsible for because of the lack of similar talent.Read Article >
If Apple really is snapping up A123's employees then it's a clear indication that the company is exploring the idea of building an electric car. A123's technology hasn't really been used in anything but electric vehicles, and the fact that it had to shut down unfinished projects because of the loss of its employees suggests the calibre of engineering talent involved. If the five individuals did jump ship to Apple to build an electric car then they'd be joining a team that reportedly already includes automation experts and top car designers.
Feb 18, 2015
Dan Akerson, who ran General Motors for less than three and a half years, issued a stern warning to Apple this week against making a car. In an interview with Bloomberg, he noted that making cars was hard. "A lot of people who don’t ever operate in it don’t understand and have a tendency to underestimate," said Akerson, who has held no other executive positions in the automotive industry. "They’d better think carefully if they want to get into the hard-core manufacturing," he said of Apple. "We take steel, raw steel, and turn it into car. They have no idea what they’re getting into if they get into that."Read Article >
Instead, Akerson says that Apple should focus on helping incumbent automakers with in-car electronics. (That's already happening with CarPlay, of course, but it's a drop in the bucket compared to the number of control systems inside a modern car, most of which are still designed by automakers and their suppliers.) Akerson also noted that margins on cars are typically razor-thin, while the iPhone practically prints money.
Feb 17, 2015
I had an interesting conversation with my parents last night in which they protested the design of the Apple car, decrying the garish orange paint and a design that made it look "like a Russian car from the 1950s." I like to think that I'm more or less up to speed on the rumor mill — certainly more than my parents, who are not in the business of breaking news — but I had absolutely no idea what they were talking about.Read Article >
Slowly, it dawned on me: the local news in Detroit (where they live) must have shown a picture of the Ford 021C, a concept car from 1999 that had been designed by Marc Newson — a man who is now in Apple's employ. Ergo, I guess the connection is being made that the 021C gives us a good idea of what the Apple car could look like.
Feb 16, 2015
It’s only been a few days since multiple publications started pointing us toward the possibility of an Apple car. (It’s so fresh that the phrase "Apple car" still feels a little odd to write.) In all likelihood, an actual car is years away from introduction — if Tim Cook and company decide to release it at all. Yet there’s already a rift growing in this young rumor mill: will Cupertino’s take on the future of transportation be capable of driving itself? The Wall Street Journal says no; Reuters says yes.Read Article >
The truth is they’re both likely right.
Feb 16, 2015
The profile offers a few more interesting tidbits about the British designer's love of cars, noting that Ive also owns an Aston Martin DB4, that he regularly attends the English vintage car show Goodwood Festival of Speed with fellow Apple employee Marc Newson, and that he feels a guilty about the opulence of his favorite vehicles. Ive says that although he bought his first Bentley for "entirely design-based reasons," he's still "uncomfortable" about it.Read Article >
An Aston Martin DB4. (Aston Martin)
Feb 14, 2015
Apple can make money several ways with a self-driving car. "It's a software game. It's all about autonomous driving," the source told Reuters. A self-driving software system and other services like high-definition mapping and electric charging services can bring revenue to the company.Read Article >
Reuters' report was not confirmed by Apple. If Apple is working on a self-driving vehicle, it will be years before the company gets one on the road.
Feb 13, 2015
The rumors have been getting stronger all week, and now they've come to a head: WSJ is reporting that Apple is indeed working on a car. "Project Titan," as it's known internally, is an all-electric vehicle that apparently "resembles a minivan" in its current iteration and has a team of several hundred people working on it.Read Article >
That's not to say that there'll ever be an Apple car on the road, necessarily. WSJ hedges its report, noting that it'd be several years at least before Titan could be ready for production, and that's assuming Cook and company decide to go through with the project. It could also end up being more of a platform for testing other products and technologies related to mobility that Apple is working on — things like CarPlay, for instance.
Feb 13, 2015
Apple is said to be hiring automative tech and vehicle design experts to work at a secret research facility in Silicon Valley, according to Financial Times. There are reportedly now dozens of employees working at the lab, which is said to have been set up some time late last year. It's unknown exactly what Apple is working on there, but FT's sources speculate that it could be a car. That's backed up by reports earlier this week from Business Insider and The Mac Observer, both of which point toward Apple working on a car. That said, these conclusions appear to be based in part on the type of experts that Apple has been hiring and not actual intel on its plans.Read Article >
Stepping into the auto industry would be a difficult move for Apple, which at this point doesn't have the manufacturing capabilities to back that up. Alternatively, it's possible that Apple is working on vehicle-related projects, such as self-driving technology, street-mapping equipment, or control systems to extend CarPlay. At this point, it's likely that any product that comes from this lab is still years out. It's also worth remembering that Apple frequently researches new technologies and tests new products that it never releases publicly.