Speculation regarding a possible Apple Car has been accelerating, and to exacerbate this process the website carwow has produced a digital impression of this mooted vehicle. And considering the well-documented links between Apple and Tesla, it should not come as a huge surprise that this particular impression of the Apple Car very much resembles a Tesla vehicle.
Apple has previously been associated with Tesla for several reasons. Firstly, it was reported last year that the consumer electronics giant could be in buyout talks with the electric car manufacturer. Apple has invariably denied this, but links between the two corporations continue.
It has also been asserted that Apple is intending some sort of collaboration all linked-up with Tesla, with the intention of strongly pushing its software as a car-based solution. But the strongest indication that Apple is planning to manufacture an electric car has been with regard to the revolving door between the two companies. Although, it must be said that this door is primarily revolving one way.
Rumors about a possible Apple electric car were stimulated by the fact that Apple has recruited numerous notable individuals who previously worked for Tesla. Not to be outdone, it was reported by Bloomberg Business in February that Tesla had also been recruiting employees from Apple. Tesla has hired at least 150 former Apple employees; more than from any other company.
Producing an electric car would also seem to make sense for Apple in some respects. There is certainly scepticism that Apple has the production capabilities to produce an electric vehicle, and there will also be issues for the company with regard to some of the logistics of vehicle manufacturing.
Apple Car logical
But Apple has always attempted to push its green credentials, and it obviously has many of the capabilities and much of the experience required to manufacture something which is at least partly electronic in nature. And somehow an electric vehicle just seems to fit the Apple remit and image. There is something inherently Apple-like about an electric car, quite aside from the fact that the consumer electronics giant is already very strongly placed to produce software for vehicles.
Apple’s Tesla-like vehicle
Thus, the carwow impression of a possible Apple Car is certainly not baseless. Already the media has dubbed the potential Apple electric vehicle as the iCar, but whether this would seriously turn out to be the name of an Apple Car is dubious. Apple has moved away from naming all of its products as iDevices with the release of the Apple Watch, and it seems an unlikely prospect for Apple to call its proposed vehicle iCar.
Nonetheless, according to this hypothetical design, the links between Apple and Tesla are about to intensify. It is notable that the Apple Car could take strong cues from the Tesla Model S, which would seem to be logical considering that Tesla is by far the most successful manufacturer of electric cars in the history of the niche.
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Other technical specifications involved in the vehicle include a futuristic looking interior, featuring an iPhone dock on the center console, large navigation displays, and a separate screen for the front passenger. Clearly this is precisely the sort of design which one would associate with Apple, and it seems inevitable that any Apple Car would be one very much focused on multimedia.
Apple Car challenges
One cannot underestimate the massive undertaking involved in producing a motor vehicle from scratch. Apple has absolutely no experience in this whatsoever, and simply producing a roadworthy car is a huge challenge. Once this has been achieved, convincing the notoriously harsh and demanding motoring press that you have produced a genuinely high-quality vehicle that people will actually want to drive will be no easy task. And Apple cannot call upon the usual cachet which is the foundation of its success in consumer electronics; if anything people will be sceptical about the haughty claims of this newcomer to the auto trade.
So with this in mind, it is perhaps not surprising that the technical specifications proposed for the so-called Apple iCar are somewhat modest. Carwow claims that the top of the range Apple vehicle would benefit from 250 bhp (186 kW) and 400 Nm (295 lb-ft) output while the battery pack would last for up to 310 miles (499 km). It also believes that a recharge of an electric car produced by Apple would take around four hours.
Apple Car by 2020
Although Apple will remain resolutely quiet about the prospect of an electric car for many years, as is its general conduct, analysts believe that we can expect such a vehicle by the end of the decade. Having said that, the number of delays which Tesla has experienced with regard to some of its vehicles, and the general trend of release dates of motor vehicles being pushed backwards, suggest that this should be very much viewed as a tentative suggestion.
Another interesting aspect of a possible Apple Car is the idea that it will feature some form of autonomous driving technology. This is becoming increasingly feasible with modern technology, and indeed numerous vehicles already feature driving assists, with apps available to expand this process still further. By the end of the decade, and even some way into the next decade, by which time Apple is expected to have released this proposed vehicle, such autonomous technology will have advanced even further.
In the meantime, Apple is also strongly pushing its CarPlay feature. As in all areas that Apple becomes involved in, there is already a battleground between Apple and an Android competitor, Android Auto. Many analysts believe that Apple’s interest in the electric car niche is at least partly motivated by its intention to dominate it with its own proprietary software.
And the company has certainly been making progress with this plan, with current Apple CEO Tim Cook suggesting during a media event recently that the Apple CarPlay infotainment system will become available on 40 new car models before the end of the year.
Apple clearly has designs on the car market by hook or by crook, and it could be that many of us will be driving around in an Apple ‘iCar’ before too much longer.