Apple strongly linked with the short-term production of an electric vehicle
The news has been ablaze in the last few days with speculation that Apple might be about to release its first motor-vehicle. The concept of an Apple car will be an attractive one for many consumers, and it is a concept that makes sense for several reasons.
Apple / Tesla relationship
Firstly, there has been something of a revolving door between Apple and the electric car manufacturer Tesla in recent years. And Apple has also been strongly linked with Tesla in other ways, with speculation rife during the 2014 that Apple was about to buyout the world’s most successful electric car producer.
Secondly, an electric car would seem to be exactly the sort of product niche that Apple would wish to be associated with. Apple has always attempted to brand itself as at the cutting edge of technology – which, of course, electric cars are – and it has also heavily played on its green credentials.
In The Simpsons, the environmentally-conscious Lisa Simpson falls for a company which is an extremely thinly disguised parody of Apple, and this was indicative of the extent to which the company has branded itself as sensitive to environmental issues. Whether this actually works out in reality is another matter entirely…
And thirdly, Apple has already shown itself to be interested in the motoring market with the recent release of CarPlay. This music device intended for music players has been a major Apple release in recent months, and some analysts now apparently see this as a precursor to an eventual range of Apple electric cars.
And there does seem to be a substantial chance of an Apple car appearing in the near future. The Mac Observer, always a close follower of Apple, has reported on a quotation by designer and writer John Gruber. Gruber suggests that a source intimate with Apple indicated that there was an 80 percent chance of an Applecart in the near future, and after doing a little digging Gruber himself concluded that in reality the chances of this occurring are virtually 100 percent.
This is a strong statement, and it is firstly worthwhile to consider the actual undertaking involved in developing and manufacturing electric cars. No-one should doubt for one second the credentials of Apple, and given some of its recent impressive sales figures and achievements in the stock exchange, there is no doubt that the company is in an outstanding position to take on ambitious projects should it choose to do so.
But manufacturing a car from scratch for the first time is far from an easy task, even for a corporation the size of Apple. Much though the consumer electronics giant is an extremely powerful force in manufacturing devices such as the iPhone, developing and producing a satisfactory motor vehicle is an entirely different prospect.
It must be borne in mind, for example, that Apple has absolutely none of the infrastructure in place that would be required to manufacture such a vehicle. Or at the very least, not the infrastructure to manufacture the mechanical parts. Other major auto manufacturers have already built up this infrastructure over decades of operating. Although Apple could possibly rely on its already powerful supply chain to produce electronic components, the scale of manufacturing required for a motor vehicle is on a different level to anything it has been involved with previously.
The next issue it would have to deal with would be one of perception. All Apple seemingly has to do with a consumer electronics device is put its badge on it somewhere, and it inevitably sells like hotcakes. The same cannot be said for a motor vehicle, where Apple has absolutely no reputation whatsoever, and would have to contend with a motoring press which is notoriously demanding and scathing.
It should also be borne in mind that this would be a massive departure from Apple’s core (no pun intended…) strategy. Considering its high-tech image, Apple is actually not overly ambitious with new product lines. The corporation has always preferred to take a cautious approach to releasing new technology, and only inaugurates new niches into its portfolio of products when it is certain it has produced something of quality and stability.
Apple has been much more inclined to rely on what it knows rather than attempt to achieve outstanding quality in a field within which it is less comfortable. By attempting to produce a car, Apple would certainly be going well outside of its comfort zone.
The Guardian newspaper in the UK has already published a tongue-in-cheek article about the pitfalls of producing an Apple car. But much though this was not intended to be taken seriously, Apple itself will have to give serious regard to the logistical issues related to the project should it decide to dip its toes into the electric car pool.