Apple Car: Tesla Supplier Mobileye In ‘Pole Position’

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The speculations about Apple working on its very own electric car continue, and if the rumors are true, there’s no denying that it will send ripples throughout the entire auto industry. From suppliers to auto dealers, to traditional automakers and the new kid on the block, Tesla Motors, the impact from an Apple car is sure to be wide-reaching, especially if it will be as innovative and technologically advanced as most are assuming.

Mobileye to benefit the most

Morgan Stanley analysts Adam Jonas and Katy Huberty looked at all the media reports concerning the rumored Apple car and considered the potential impacts across the auto industry. If Apple really is working on a car, they expect it to be: “100% electric, eventually autonomous and ultimately offered as a service in a shared mobility model.”

Based on these expectations, they see Mobileye, a key supplier for Tesla Motors, as being potentially the biggest beneficiary from the development of a car by Apple. In fact, they see Tesla as making “the closest thing to a potential Apple Car,” so in that view, it would make perfect sense for Mobileye to benefit significantly.

Mobileye holds a dominant position in driver assistance systems for autonomous vehicles, based on vision. Indeed, as more and more of the auto industry in general moves toward using sensors in driver-less cars, Mobileye’s technology will become even more important, and not just for Tesla and potentially Apple. The Morgan Stanley team sees the company “in pole position” as technology grows in importance in cars.

“We would be surprised if MBLY was not seriously involved in giving Apple Car the gift of sight,” they wrote.

Other supplier beneficiaries

In addition to Mobileye, they expect Delphi to be well-positioned in the auto industry as a Tier-0 “mega supplier,” particularly in the area of ADAS, electrical distribution and connectors. The Morgan Stanley team also suggests that Lear may have a chance to supply parts focused on comfort, as Apple would surely pay a lot of attention to the passenger experience as it specializes in premium experience for consumers.

In terms of building cars, the analysts like Magna because of its Steyr business, which they see as “the closest thing to the Foxconn of autos.” Magna could also potentially supply things like electronics, doors, seating, or parts for the body of the car.

What about Tesla?

Because of the way the Tesla and Apple brands are both premium brands associated with luxury, many comparisons have been drawn between the two companies. As a result, there’s been plenty of debate about what it might mean for Tesla if Apple developed its own electric car. Apple has apparently been stealing some of Tesla’s top engineers, so such comparisons are further validated.

Jonas and Huberty see the potential impact on Tesla from an Apple car as being neutral or unknown. Of course Tesla would be a natural competitor for an Apple car, but Tesla CEO Elon Musk has emphasized that they aim to speed up the adoption of electric vehicles. He has even welcomed the idea of Apple getting in on the competition.

The Morgan Stanley team thinks Tesla might be able to contribute intellectual property and/ or batteries, but they also said that the automaker appears to want to create its own “full-service mobility ecosystem.”

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