By on September 21, 2015

 

Apple will formalize what kind of car it may produce (or have already produced) by 2019, the Wall Street Journal reported.

According to the report, the Cupertino, California-based company has labeled the car a “committed project” but stopped short of saying that the car would be delivered to consumers by 2019. The report only indicates that the car could be ready for consumers, finalized or conceptualized by engineers by 2019.

If all this seems vague, consider that most of the project’s executives have essentially vanished into witness relocation after joining Apple to work on the car.

The report indicates that Apple’s first venture may not be a fully autonomous vehicle.

It was rumored that the car project could be named “Titan” although insiders say that could also be the name for Apple’s mapping program.

Last month, Tesla engineer Jamie Carlson was recruited to work on the secret program. In July, former Chrysler VP Doug Betts began work at the company, according to his LinkedIn page. These people could also be working in the mail room.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

65 Comments on “Report: Apple Plans to ‘Ship’ Some Sort of Car By 2019...”


  • avatar
    RideHeight

    The schooling of these IT idiot savants will truly be popcorn-worthy.

    • 0 avatar
      VelocityRed3

      I’ve been a nerd since I took a LOGO class’s in the back of a Radio-Shack on a TRASH-80 in 1979. I fit mly believe that it was the other Steves, (Wozniak & Balmer) that were truly revolutionary. I say that to demonstrate that I normally fall on the side of the technologists. However, I sincerely believe, that this will go down like Lisa II (spiked with a little Newton for good measure).

      • 0 avatar
        RHD

        The Apple iCar will be manufactured only in China, by underaged schoolchildren working for pennies per hour.
        The first model, generally too small for most purposes, will come only in black or white, but later models will be available in white, blue, green, yellow and pink.
        At first they will appear modern and attractive but will have defective antennas, and the windshields will break very easily. The batteries will go dead at the most inconvenient times, and can only be replaced by the dealers.
        Service will be provided only by making an appointment days in advance, and the “geniuses” that work on them will rarely be successful at solving the problems.
        In an attempt to maintain their market share, Apple will eventually offer a larger version of the iCar in silver, gray or gold, but it will be too large to fit in your garage.
        Korea’s Samsung, in cooperation with Ford, will eventually dominate the market with a less expensive car with more features, the Galaxie.

      • 0 avatar
        Power6

        Ummmm Balmer was not the technologist at MS lol!!

        Also “IT” hardly describes Apple. Imagine IBM making a car that would be a disaster.

    • 0 avatar
      Louis XVI

      You sound exactly like the folks at Blackberry and Microsoft right before the iPhone came out. I think you know how that turned out.

      Seriously, though, how can this be a bad thing? If Apple pulls it off, car shoppers will have a cool new option available, and maybe they’ll introduce some good new ideas that filter out to the rest of the market. If it’s a bust, they’ll go away and things will go on as they have. Aside from Apple employees and shareholders, who has anything to lose from this?

      • 0 avatar
        RideHeight

        You’re right. It could be Insanely Great! Or it could be a risible foray into a ball-busting, gritty business by a bunch of coddled Aspies who haven’t an inkling that they could ever be wrong.

        Let’s wait and see.

    • 0 avatar
      healthy skeptic

      @RideHeight

      You mean the IT idiot savants who have assumed $200 billion in cash?

      Enough to buy GM and Ford *combined*?

      • 0 avatar
        RideHeight

        Them’s the ones!

        Kept in their pens and properly stroked/bullied they’re immensely productive in ultra narrow channels. It was Job’s genius to inspire and control them as well as to realize that the biggest opportunity in computer tech lay in providing zomg for dummies that “just works”.

        But then he died and Apple hasn’t fielded a game-changer since.

      • 0 avatar
        anomaly149

        The IT idiots that are looking to take that $100 billion (it’s not $200 billion if I remember) and set a good portion of it on fire by trying to join the automotive industry. Which they have the money to do, should they be so foolish.

        Automotive is an extremely capital intensive, high liability, low margin, highly volume driven industry with reputations that take years to improve and days to destroy. Even the super top of the top automakers (Ferrari, Mclaren, etc) are pushing for more volume, more shared components, and more resource sharing to offset spiraling costs and a fierce price war that’s been going since before most of us were alive.

        This is like when Honda started trying to move into the bizjet industry: everyone that worked in it was wondering why they’d want to throw all that money away.

        EDIT: however you feel about him, Sergio is 100% spot-on with his criticisms of the Automotive Industry. And Apple is not clever enough to “DISRUPT THROUGH INNOVATIVE THINKING” this industry in any way beyond slapping an apple with a bite out of it on a Cruze.

        • 0 avatar
          bobdmacster

          You’re right. There’s no way a naive little operation like Apple would have the grasp of the complexities involved in manufacturing on a large scale, with difficult supply chains and inventory management issues that you do.

          If only they were as aware as you of how capital intensive it is, and how important high margins are to a profitable enterprise.

        • 0 avatar
          tekdemon

          They have so much money that what is capital intensive for other companies is just a tiny portion of their cash stash. A company like Mazda spends about $1.2 billion a year on R&D and they struggle to pay that kind of money but Apple could pay that every year while generating no profits for 2 hundred years. They’re just poaching the best and brightest from other car companies by offering them sacks of cash.

          • 0 avatar
            anomaly149

            Autoblog cites 6 billion to develop and tool an all new vehicle http://www.autoblog.com/2010/07/27/why-does-it-cost-so-much-for-automakers-to-develop-new-models/ but this assumes you’re going in knowing what you’re doing (Apple doesn’t yet). Apple is also building a new factory (easy few billion), developing a new supply chain, parts distribution service, dealer network, building new assembly lines at suppliers, all the other things that support the back end of the auto industry (another easy billion), numerous new engineering, prototyping, and test facilities (EASY several billion, GM spent a billion just renovating their tech center) and etc. I wouldn’t be surprised if the baseline cost they’re staring at is above 10 billion, before they’ve built the first customer salable unit. (or looked at the facelift. Or the next model)

            This is why it’s crazy to try to bust into the automotive industry. The existing OEMs have tens to hundreds of billions of dollars in infrastructure to eke out a few percent margin on Corollas. iPhones just plain make more money.

      • 0 avatar
        RHD

        Maybe they can merge with Fiat. Then maybe Marchionne will pipe down for a while.

  • avatar
    elimgarak

    On the day VW gets clobbered in the market and looks to be in a world of pain, this news about Apple drops.

    The inflection point that starts the long term changing of the guard?

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Veteran Apple-watchers love to laugh at reports like this, which are based on speculation and sometimes outright disinformation far more often than they’re right.

    I guarantee you no one, least of all Apple, knows what Apple is going to be releasing in four years. Their pattern is to release products when they feel the products are ready, which can sometimes be several years after the first prototypes are running, and not to tell anyone what’s going on before release. The reliable Apple rumors only show up once a product is being manufactured in bulk, and come from the supply chain.

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      But does anyone now bamboozle, scare and bully Apple management like Jobs did to maintain his standard MO? Do they have a real Führer to keep the gifted airheads mum and in line?

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Yup.

      Remember when we were assured that it was absolutely certain that Apple would be selling a TV set (not a set-top box, an entire TV) last year?

    • 0 avatar
      anomaly149

      They’re headhunting crash safety, welding, stamping, supply chain, etc. engineers from all over the auto industry.

      You don’t do that without a plan to at least try something with them.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        That’s right. But it’s a *very* long way from “trying something and using meaningful resources to do it” to “a product is coming in four years.”

        Apple worked on the iPhone for almost a decade and went through several iterations of the concept before settling on the final product. The iPad was almost as long in development. They won’t release a car unless/until they feel they can do something that stands out from the rest of the industry.

  • avatar
    WhiskeyRiver

    Finally Apple can recover some of the money they lost on the LISA operating system by repurposing it into a car. But… LISA was created to recover the money they lost on the Apple III SOS operating system…

    Oh, this oughta be great alright.

    • 0 avatar
      Felis Concolor

      “Just power down and unplug your base computer unit, lift it at least 18 inches above a suitably strong surface – preferably a reinforced concrete floor – and drop the unit, thus reseating the DIP chips which have walked out of their sockets as a result of our refusal to use proper cooling fans.”

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      30 year out of date references are always interesting right?

      I’m an apple hater, I have no taste for their products but with a warchest bigger than any current automaker’s assets they can certainly produce a fully functional car within a relatively quick time frame. I’m in agreement that ‘conceptualization’ by 2019 seems most likely but in a decade Apple could be selling you a car with your iPad for sure.

    • 0 avatar
      WhiskeyRiver

      Lisa was a multi-user operating system that crashed when used that way. The car might crash with two or more users in it.

      • 0 avatar
        Power6

        Not an apple fan but good to see internet smarty pants still dont know success comes with lots of failure. Too busy criticizing to do anything useful. Im sure if you did something instead of spewing blather on the internet all day you would be 100pct successful at everything you do.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “The report only indicates that the car could be ready for consumers, finalized or conceptualized by engineers by 2019.”

    The Tesla Model 3 will likely be on the road in 2018, even considering Tesla’s notoriously late delivery of product.

    Apple – with no vehicle experience and no factory – won’t do it a year later. The Model X was conceptualized many years ago, but is only slated to ship next week.

    On the other hand, if Apple employ’s VW’s “defeat software”, 2019 could happen!

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      I’m leaning towards ‘conceptualized’ by 2019 and put into production 3-4 years later. It’s probably going to be semi-autonomous only though. Apple could easily purchase the Normal plant being vacated or any number of large plant facilities and get an assembly line rolling with the kind of cash they have but they’re probably still sorting out legalities and design work by 2019.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        I think you’re right.

        Since it’s Apple, though, I suspect their goal isn’t as simple as an autonomous (or semi-) car, but probably an entirely new business model. As you said above, perhaps the car sale helps leverage other Apple product sales.

        They’d have to really believe in it to go to all that trouble. Anyone who’s followed Tesla’s odyssey can appreciate how uphill the battle is, and sometime money can’t solve everything.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        >> Apple could easily purchase the Normal plant being

        Maybe they’ll just go with a Chinese company building to their specs?

        • 0 avatar
          derekson

          They probably want to contract an established manufacturer to actually build the cars. Hence the interest in BMW and the construction of the i3/i8.

        • 0 avatar
          Xeranar

          Importation laws, partnering with the Chinese would create more issues than it’s worth on multiple levels. We don’t mind our phones from China, we do mind our cars. I agree with Derekson, I could see Apple partner with an established player to get an ‘Apple’ car released as a heavily modded version of a proven platform.

  • avatar
    GermanReliabilityMyth

    I already thought the market had its needs met for hip-to-be-square, overpriced, trendy, boutique throwaway cars with Cadillac’s lineup. Right, Deadweight? Right?

  • avatar

    I’ll just rebuy my iCar every single year to get the incremental upgrades.

    It’s a TERRIBLE IDEA.

    Apple should partner with TESLA and develop Apple-friendly firmware and software for their cars.

  • avatar
    wmba

    Are they going to sell these new cars out of the Apple Stores or deliver them by Apple iDrone from the shopping cart checkout online?

    Inquiring minds need to know.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      I don’t know how they going to sell them but I know, these will be hacked from thousands miles away and driven by Chinese operators to the nearest shipyard via apple phone app.

  • avatar
    Zammy

    For the moment think about cars in a different way. They aren’t simply transportation, they are also the next frontier in mobile computing platforms.

    Who is going to be dominant in this new platform?

    Is it going to be Google? Is it going to be Microsoft? Is it going to be Apple?

    Apple does not want to see one of their competitors take over this space. They want to find a way to be the dominant platform for “transportation based computing” in the future. Unfortunately they currently have no leverage to get themselves there. The architecture is controlled by the carmakers and the carmakers really aren’t excited about what this future implies for their bottom line (cars as a service is highly disruptive to automobile ownership).

    In a way this is a similar problem to what Apple had to face when the wanted to penetrate the cell-phone market. The network providers basically had a monopoly on the market and Apple needed a product (and a partner) to find wedge into that market. The first iPhone and Cingular were that product and wedge.

    None of the carmakers right now want to enable the vision of transportation that Silicon Valley is trying to sell. Google is far ahead of Apple here in basic investment. Apple has to catch up fast.

    I don’t know what physical form the iCar will intially take. Maybe it will be an autonomous taxi service available in certain urban markets (doubtful). Maybe it will be a personally-owned status symbol sold in limited quantities (more likely). But the real purpose of the iCar will to be a rolling technology demonstration and gain a foothold as the dominant transportation compute platform of the future. Once Apple has something real that can provide benefit to the first carmaker to adopt it, look for the technology to be licensed. The important thing to Apple will be to spread their standard as quickly as possible to as many “reputable” carmakers as possible. The sooner Apple can claim that technology space the sooner they can block Google or Microsoft.

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      “transportation based computing”

      Do you mean management of autonomous vehicles or some kind of full mobile office? Which I guess implies AVs otherwise you’d have to be driving rather than using your mobile production center.

      • 0 avatar
        Zammy

        When Steve Jobs proposed the iPhone he didn’t initially envision how it would revolutionize mobile computing. His original motivation for the iPhone was to protect his iTunes business. He was afraid that if cell phones starting implementing mp3 player functionality, that it would make all he had built around the iPod obsolete.

        I would suspect that what exactly “transportation based computing” will become is vague and undefined, but it is clear that whoever dominates this space will have a big advantage.

        Think about the challenge that Apple would face if Google were to dominate in-car computing. How do you even sell iPhones if Android offers a seamless transition from work to transportation to home?

        What would seamless integration look like? I don’t know. But I can imagine all sorts of things.

        Pause a movie in your car and resume it on your Apple TV. Save a list of frequent destinations on your PC and they show up in your car GPS. Start composing an email by voice in your car, finish editing it at work.

        • 0 avatar
          RideHeight

          So you basically mean a seamless extension of your home media/production suite to that in your car? Without AVs how is that useful?

          And with AVs every IT company in the world will jump on it, most of them contemptuously disregarding any patents by Apple.

        • 0 avatar
          Xeranar

          Zammy has it right but from Apple’s point of view it’s both more ad revenue and more sales. It’s about embedding a constant media stand directly in your face at all times to maximize your initiative to purchase. Commuting to the suburbs is valuable time wasted…well…commuting. Apple wants to maximize their revenue streams and if they can make the ‘iCar’ a featured suite for car makers to produce and integrate would be their best avenue.

          To be fair their mighty war chest could see them go it alone though that seems unlikely. I mean they’ve gotten people to buy $600 phones on continuous update cycles now using permanent payment plans (essentially renting). I could just as easily see them using an ‘infinite lease’ program for a full-electric car that could be disassembled and new interiors/panels put on it and refreshed and sent back out into service using the continuous cash flow they’ve got going in their favor as well as ad revenue and media purchases. The economics may not work out in their favor depending on the pricing but I could see BMW 3-series lease style approach that gets you in the door and keeps you buying.

  • avatar
    PRNDLOL

    Oooooh!

    Lucky
    us.

    :|

  • avatar
    64andahalf

    If this happens, the cars will likely be made in China for Apple. Apple has the magic brand that allows people to buy things based on trust and hype. China needs Apple and Apple needs China.

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    Oh, this ought to be good.

    The idea of this company, a producer of computer systems, getting into automobile manufacturing is evidence of its gigantic ego and limitless arrogance at work.

    “We’re Apple! We’re Geniuses! How difficult could it be to build an automobile? Why, cars are mostly just primitive mechanical machines! They’re not modern devices like computers! This’ll be easy!”

    I don’t know, let’s ask GM how easy it is to make machines as complex as modern cars in the current zero-tolerance, zero-defect legal and cultural environment.

    Apple should stick to making quasi-niche computer technologies for obnoxious hipster douchebags and pretentious pseudo-intellectuals. Leave the making of cars to those who actually know how.

    • 0 avatar
      Louis XVI

      Did Steve Jobs sleep with your wife or something? Apple is just a company, just like any other company, that makes stuff that you can choose to buy or ignore. Why the hate?

    • 0 avatar
      derekson

      This is basically the exact same rhetoric that we heard about the iPhone. “What does Apple know about making a cellphone? They should leave it to companies that know what they’re doing like BlackBerry and Nokia and Motorola!”

  • avatar
    Russycle

    Apple will not “ship” a car in 2019. But they will probably reinvent the automobile, and unveil something unique. Might be a success, might be the next Segway, will be interesting either way.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      By “Segway”, if you mean “interesting novelty, but colossal failure”, I get it.

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      How do you “reinvent” a mechanism for safely hauling heavily laden chairs-on-wheels from A to B, a task whose fulfillment has been developed and refined by very, very smart people and avaricious companies for over 100 years, without involving teleportation?

      Gadgets, gizmos and maybe the AI for AVs, yeah, Apple could conceivably do that. But how could they change motor vehicles as we know them?

      • 0 avatar
        derekson

        You either reinvent how people buy it or how they interact with it. Or both.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Let’s be honest: car user interfaces suck, and have sucked more and more as cars get more and more capable.

        This is the exact problem that Apple solved with the iPhone. If you ever had the misfortune of using a smartphone before the iPhone, you know they were just as frustrating as today’s cars. WIthin two years of the iPhone’s introduction, it was clear that Apple had invented a new idea that would become the standard industry-wide.

        I’m sure that Apple wants to do two things with its car: 1) reinvent the user interface (although probably not the primary driving controls) and 2) improve the underlying technology, probably by leveraging its considerable expertise in packaging and materials. (You think packaging a car is hard? Have a look at what Apple did to fit everything into the current 12″ MacBook.)

        • 0 avatar
          RideHeight

          Then I recuse myself from further worrying my pretty little head about iCars due to demographic incompetence.

          The only “interface” I need or want with my vehicles is manual manipulation of their mechanical controls enabled by visual assessment of my surroundings gained by my eyeballs through large transparent portions of the enveloping structure.

          Clearly everything automotive is trending away from my preferences and I won’t be driving all that much longer, anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      Maybe it will have six legs instead of four wheels, and gyroscopes so the passenger pod doesn’t sway or feel any bumps. It could walk right over stalled traffic jams, wade through six feet of water and rescue stuck Jeeps from the Rubicon. Or maybe look like something else from a Star Wars movie.

  • avatar
    derekson

    The only way this makes any sense is if Apple has a new business model rather than the conventional car manufacturer model. The margins are low and R&D costs are incredibly high, so Apple has to do something different for this to be anything other than a drain on their coffers and a hit to their profit margins.

    I don’t pretend to know how the numbers would work out, but I assume it’s some sort of carsharing model based on a subscription or a lease contract or something. The cars would tie into iCloud and automatically pair with your iPhone (you could tap the phone to the dash and have it pair and load your information, like Apple TV setup works now) and restore memory seat settings and other settings. Perhaps they’d also offer the cars for private ownership, just like you can buy an iPhone outright or do contracts or payment plans now, but I doubt that they plan to just sell cars directly to consumers.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    I wouldn’t buy Apple phone, let alone car.

  • avatar
    seanx37

    If Apple wants to make a car, why don’t they just buy an auto company? Or you know, ALL OF THEM? Ok, Toyota might be a stretch. But the rest of the auto industry could be purchased with Apple’s considerable resources.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    They should get into space exploration instead, less competition.

    Let’s be honest, Apple is about successful branding. Revolutionize the car? Unlikely. The marketing, maybe.

  • avatar
    PentastarPride

    Judging by their track record of closing off their products and creating a proprietary mess, I can picture what will happen when routine maintenance or a repair is needed.

    All of it will have to be performed by Apple and only Apple. Third-party or DIY service will be impossible, and will probably be forbidden by the silly EULA. Somehow, even the tires will be proprietary. Because of this, I wouldn’t count on a running example five years after it was purchased new.

    About two to three years after the first models have been released and sold, these will start to fill the tummies of crushers since they will be so uneconomical (and impossible) to maintain and repair. But that’s okay because Apple and most of their customers always think short-term and only look as far as the next release.

  • avatar
    hurricanehole

    Alot of backward looking in the comments, anyone see more tech in transportations future? What companies software will be used to move people and goods in the future? This game is afoot and it won’t involve tinkering in the backyard with the carburetor. More likely people like the kid who made the clock in high school.

  • avatar
    bubbajet

    As others have said above, car UIs suck. See Doug DeMuro’s article on Subarus. In most cases, I just want to be able to use the dang thing.

    But as far as entry cost to the industry, the high cost used to be the motor, as in BMW’s middle initial. Design and testing of the propulsion were highly technical and esoteric. That’s not needed any longer. See Tesla. Electric motors, no transmission or emissions control. Electric/electronic suspension, steering, and for that matter everything else. There is no reason Apple couldn’t build a car. Of course, that doesn’t make it a great idea…

    Should Apple actually release a car, it wouldn’t be a Honda Civic fighter, it’ll be aimed at the high-end, high-margin cars. Apple doesnt compete with low end computers or phones, they make high end devices and charge accordingly.

    Will they actually do it? Who knows? But it’s certainly possible. I’m not sure I’d buy one. I’m not sure I could afford one. I am sure it would change the industry though. Even if it failed, you’d see improvements across the industry.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • theflyersfan: @Art – I look at the VAG as I look at Hyundai/Kia. A lot of people like H/K because they get a...
  • Inside Looking Out: Well, I started with Z80/x86 Assembly languages before I learned C and C++. Then Java and Python...
  • Corey Lewis: Have ya seen the interior of a Mark VIII 20+ years on?
  • Art Vandelay: All they had to do on TPP was not act like they were hiding something. All that reading it in secret...
  • Corey Lewis: Not likely. I’d have a Mercedes first before another VAG.

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber