Apple Inc. Is Making A Car, Should Tesla Motors Inc Worry? [REPORT]

Tesla stockBlomst / Pixabay

Apple and Tesla Motors have been in a poaching war for some time, with each stealing employees from the other. This is hardly surprising, as jobs at both companies are highly coveted in Silicon Valley. Also there are similar types of jobs at Tesla and Apple, but as it turns out, Apple isn’t just hiring software specialists.

Apparently Apple is also stealing some of Tesla’s automotive engineers or technicians. Now why on earth would Apple do that if it isn’t working on a car?

Apple building a car? Oh, please…

This week Business Insider reported that Apple was working on some kind of Tesla-killer product. It really seemed far-fetched to me that Apple would build a car, and I’m certainly not the only one in the blogosphere. However, the buzz in Silicon Valley is that Apple really is building a car—and stealing Tesla’s car experts to do it.

Bryan Chaffin of The Mac Observer worked his contacts to test the veracity of the rumor. Amazingly, he found his own evidence that Apple may really be working on a car.

More sources suggest an Apple car

According to Chaffin, his sources told him that Apple has specifically been stealing “the kind of people from Tesla that is most suited to cars.” Chaffin had been a doubter of the rumor about an iCar—until his sources gave him this tidbit. He also points out that a search of LinkedIn reveals more former Tesla employees who are now at Apple than former Apple employees who are now at Tesla.

He added that another source told him that in C-suites across Silicon Valley, executives pretty much believe Apple must be working on a car. Of course this is nothing but hearsay, but as Chaffin notes, executives in the tech community tend to know what’s going on throughout Silicon Valley—even if it’s happening at a company other than their own.

Chaffin said he asked another source to place a percentage on the probability that Apple is working on a car. That source reportedly told him 80%, which further seems to support the rumor about an Apple Car.

Apple expands into new product categories

It would certainly seem that a car would just be outside Apple’s area of expertise, but he notes that so were mobile phones when the company released the iPhone. Just as mobile phones became more technical when the original iPhone came out, cars are now becoming more technical.

Some have onboard computers and even touchscreens. And all it takes is a glimpse inside a Tesla Model S to see the resemblance between Apple’s iPad and the touchscreen inside the car. Don’t forget also that Apple is working on CarPlay, an operating system designed for cars that’s being rolled out to multiple brands of vehicles. So why not have its own car to run CarPlay?

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it is sounding like Apple may indeed be working on a car. Of course keep in mind that just because Apple may be working on a car, it doesn’t mean that car will ever see the light of day. The company frequently shelves products without ever bringing them to market for various reasons.

And even if the Apple car becomes a reality, it could be many years before we ever see it. Just look at how long some people have been waiting for an Apple TV (an actual smart TV set, not just the Apple TV set-top box).

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About the Author

Michelle Jones
Michelle Jones was a television news producer for eight years. She produced the morning news programs for the NBC affiliates in Evansville, Indiana and Huntsville, Alabama and spent a short time at the CBS affiliate in Huntsville. She has experience as a writer and public relations expert for a wide variety of businesses. Michelle has been with ValueWalk since 2012 and is now our editor-in-chief. Email her at Mjones@valuewalk.com.

31 Comments on "Apple Inc. Is Making A Car, Should Tesla Motors Inc Worry? [REPORT]"

  1. Absolutely. And replace with others such as toothpaste, watermelons or doormats to see that this applies to any industry.

    Apple could apply its billions in cash to overhaul any low margin industry it chooses to. But why on earth would it choose to just because it can?

    I would have thought it would pick a HIGH margin industry to disrupt, wouldn’t you?

  2. Bugatti are VW/Audi aren’t they? So not exactly newly arrived on the auto manufacturer scene then.

    And I don’t think the other 2 make much (if any) money. So good they may be, but their VERY tightly defined niche limits the market HUGELY. Very small margins in the auto industry you know.

    Not sure that’s a market Apple wants to be in. As an AAPL shareholder I certainly hope not!

  3. Yes, true, but ‘can’ isn’t always appropriate.

    For example, no matter how great a CEO Tim Cook is, how fit he is, how much he trains or how much money he or Apple ever spend on it, he won’t ever run as fast as Usain Bolt. Not everything is possible.

    He CAN’T run a 9.58 second 100m. ** CAN’T **

    Negative, perhaps. But also realistic.

  4. better yet why would you waste money on an iCr@p when there is Android. Anyway the google self driving cars area already eons ahead of every other effort and Apple doesn’t have engineers nor can it retain them for any length of time before they flee from those iHighSchool Dropouts like a bat out of hell

  5. you’re too retarded to argue with

  6. And/Or want to become the interface in cars in the future.

  7. I wouldn’t count on Apple making a car or buying Tesla. Why? iPhones and iPads are nice but who could or would afford an iCar? Not to mention Apple’s tech support isn’t the best. To be a car maker you have to have dealerships, mechanics, supply chains for parts much bigger than chips. Not to mention recalls and lawsuits for inevitable problems. Apple may have a crap ton of money but even the most diehard fans could see them biting off more than they could chew.

  8. james braselton | Feb 15, 2015, 5:48 pm at 5:48 pm |

    hi there mogget your right yamaha makes all kinds of products even jet boats your right about a magic eletric moter called the eletro magnic jet drive in the red october has unlimited range zero emizzions zero noise zero detecion

  9. You just keep saying these things and expect people will believe you. Either that, or you are just trolling.

    If it was a bad car it wouldn’t sell like hotcakes or win awards, which it does. What is your concept for a high priced car?

    I don’t know how your power math works, but people charge their Tesla’s overnight to full…. every night no problem.

    What is an Apple high school dropout? If these people have the money to buy a Tesla and you don’t then they must be smarter than you. Where are your stock options, huh?

  10. Really? Then I wonder why these “engineers” would come up with such a useless, moronic concept for a high priced car: Engineers that don’t understand the basic concept of Power and Conservation of Energy to realize you can’t effectively do in overnight charge of a fully electric call on a household power outlet. The only people I know of that were stupid enough to buy a Tesla are Apple’s high school dropouts-turned-engineers, which is a fluke: Money and stock options in the hands of dumb uneducated consumers like Apple employees: That’s why Tesla is selling anything at all right now.

  11. Sure, any huge company with dollars to blow can jump into a new market. Yamaha makes everything from pianos to motorcycles. Each step in that direction will only help if they have something unique to offer.

    What do we think Apple will offer? I doubt Apple has a magic electric motor, or a battery giga-factory anywhere… but they make touchscreens. Apple simply doesn’t make cars in the way that Tesla does.

    I am willing to bet this is about Apple making interface components. Either Tesla will put a car around Apple stuff and call it an Imobile, or Apple with put stuff in the Tesla and they can claim that they have an Apple touch screen just as an Audi has Bose speakers.

  12. What an odd thing to say about Tesla. All they have is engineers. Even their chief financial officer is an engineer (with experience from Ford) instead of an accountant. They have aerospace engineers, automotive engineers, you name it.

  13. Google has already made a self-driving car and Apple is using its high school dropouts to pull off a monkey-see-monkey-do by stealing engineers from Tesla. Tesla has nothing to offer as far as engineers go. As for stealing engineers from Google, it would be an insult for a Google car engineer to even speak to one of Apple’s high school dropouts let alone work for those iTards!

  14. Despite what I have said in rebuttal of some comments below, I think that Apple is interested in the automotive market but unlikely to enter it as a car maker for about 5 years. I have no doubt that they could produce a paradigm-changing vehicle. But not all the right factors are in play now for an entry as a carmaker right now. In 2018 onwards, it is a strong possibility. A new mode of personal transport perhaps?

  15. ‘….you can’t achieve that with electronic know-how.’
    Can’t is an absolute term and a very unimaginative word.

  16. And how many decades old are Koenigsegg, Pagani, the reborn Bugatti and other new young car makers?

  17. Such a foolish assertion to make.

    You are voicing your own narrow prejudices about the ‘art of the possible’ – something that Apple does again and again. Your comments say more about you than they do about cars or Apple.

    Cars are not complicated in their mechanicals, which are well, and widely understood by now – mostly old-hat engineering thinking that is ripe for disruption. Many very successful companies have started car production in the last 15 or more years and all are thriving. 30 years ago, a maker of wooden fishing boats in Holland decided to enter the Superyacht market. They are now a leading player in that market.

    With the advent of the double-whammy of pollution worries and very high fuel prices, and the extreme interest in better energy-source technologies, there could be no better time for Apple to wade into the car market. Apple is already deeply involved in battery technologies.

    The auto market is currently in flux and disarray because of the growing trend towards other energy sources. It is in transition away from fossil fuels to alternatives – hybrids and pure electric vehicles. And then there is the hydrogen cell – already a working technology among a few long established car makers.

    As I have said, the mechanicals of a car are not rocket science. There are a lot of outdated/ancient engineering ideas in evidence in current automobiles. This is the perfect moment for Apple to disrupt this market and to demonstrate how new thinking in electronics, battery technology and, yes, engineering, can be applied to making one or more truly 21st century cars.

    I think that this is a challenge that is well within the scope of Apple to undertake. They bring their vast knowledge of electronics and software to the table. In concert with mechanical and automotive engineers, they can reinvent ‘automOtion’. No other company is better placed to take motoring forward on a whole new set of engineering principles, technologies and materials.

    Your discouraging attitude towards Apple in the automotive market reminds me 100% of the now infamous comments made by Ed Colligan, CEO of Palm about Apple entering the phone market – more a case of fearful wishful thinking than of business-savvy common sense imho:
    ––––––––––––––
    Responding to questions from New York Times correspondent John Markoff at a Churchill Club breakfast gathering Thursday morning, Colligan laughed off the idea that any company — including the wildly popular Apple Computer — could easily win customers in the finicky smart-phone sector.

    “We’ve learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone,” he said. “PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.'”

    ––––––––––––––

  18. I agree in the sense that if Apple is getting into electric vehicles, then it may be in over Its head.

  19. Yes, true… except that a smartphone is basically a computer with a couple of radios and a touchscreen. Ditto a watch, music player, tablet… the real power of the Apple platform is the software and the user experience.

    Music doesn’t sound better on an iPod, a phone call isn’t better on an iPhone, the time isn’t told better when told by Apple Watch, etc. But there is a world of difference between an ordinary car and a luxury car and these things are borne from years of experience of producing them. Great car companies often produce good cars that somehow just miss the spot, it’s a very hard thing to quantify and a really hard thing to reproduce.

    There is a BIG difference. You only have to drive a Lotus Elise once to know that cars are very different in their effect as well as the user experience. They get from A to B in very very different ways, as well as just make you enjoy being in them. Phones handle a call virtually identically from the user’s perspective, it’s the initiating and ending them that makes the difference. All cars can go round a corner, but not the way an Elise does – you can’t achieve that with electronic know-how.

    Like I said, a car is much MUCH more than a circuit board with wheels.

  20. Even small companies came out with MP3 players, phones and watches. Heck, a smart watch even came out of a Kickstarter … Electronics are just assembled out of many readily available components and there all require roughly the same skillset. I fully believe Apple can build any electronic product it wants.

    But cars are a different category of product. You might as well expect them to build a plane or develop a drug. They start with zero experts in that area. To give you an idea: Tesla has 10,000 employees.

    Apparently Apple is doing something with cars. But they’re not building one. You’ll notice when they decide to. It will require bigger things than hiring a few engineers.

  21. To be named the iRod.

  22. Interesting that AAPL would choose FSLR the other day(instead of SCTY), and now talk of this. I’ve also heard Elon was over at AAPL, so if anything, AAPL and TSLA might merge rather than AAPL try to start everything in house. Maybe more execs are going to AAPL to ease the transition? :)

  23. “…anyone who ever worked in the industry can tell you this is rubbish”

    Replace with audio, telecom, horological to get 3 other ways to look silly.

  24. Oh stop it everyone. Anyone who’s ever worked for an auto manufacturer can tell you this is rubbish. There’s so much more to building a car than grabbing some employees and having a go, at least there is if you want it to be any good. Even Tesla with all their money borrowed the chassis and suspension from the fantastic Lotus Elise for their first vehicle.

    A car is NOT mainly tech. It is not a circuit board with wheels at the corners!

    If Apple really wanted to build a car, which I don’t believe for a second that they do, they would buy an auto manufacturer. But I really have no idea why they would want to do that – the margins on even a luxurious brand’s top model are far less than Apple is used to making on its products, with an a risk attached that would send the share price back to 2004.

  25. Michelle… Apple is not building a car. Pull your head out.

  26. So a company that outsources everything is suddenly going to develop its own car? More likely they are testing an autonomous driving system for cars. Kinda like google.

  27. Yes Apple does want to control cars. I also believe that Apple is currently producing their own type of QNX (BlackBerry) type platform as to not rely on others.

  28. Folks:

    What is it with this site that has it in for Tesla Motors? Most other sources say that more former Apple employees have ended up at Tesla than the other way around.

    If Apple does build a car, it will probably do so in China, just like it does with its other products. After see the documentary “Apples Broken Promises”, I doubt most folks will be too interested in an iCar.

    tinker

  29. It’s all Bullshit. Don’t even other debating it.
    AAPL wants to control cars not make them.

  30. Tesla came from nowhere to build a car for the elite, perhaps Apple can pull it off without being so exclusive. Time will tell.

  31. well if Telsa keeps poaching Apple employees, maybe they can send in spies to see what they are doing..
    … oh wait all their designs are OPEN SOURCE.

    “Is Telsa worried?”, I guess that’s moot.

    Also, look at the amount of time Apple took to release their first gen products, you wouldn’t be looking at a car in anything less than 5 years. They’ve done it in the past with copyleft BSD Unix to make your shiny OSX. They are the pseudo-fascists (a real fascist would make sure no one else was left – oh wait.. Samsung lawsuit… hmm.. maybe Tesla’s open sourcing changes thing?) of the open source world… but nobody seems to care, except when they store their taxable revenue offshore.

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