Is there an iCar in Apple’s future?

The demand for smartphones and tablets is beginning to plateau

by Chris Sorensen

The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that Apple’s head of mergers and acquisitions met last spring with Elon Musk, the CEO of electric car-maker Tesla. While the newspaper was careful to note there’s no evidence of a deal in the works, or even any confirmation the alleged meeting took place, the idea of Apple and Tesla working together isn’t as far-fetched as it might initially seem.

Tech firms like Apple and Google are seeking to expand their presence into new markets as demand for smartphones and tablets begins to plateau. The auto industry, meanwhile, is counting on new technologies to make vehicles safer, more affordable and more fun to drive.

Apple and Tesla share plenty of other similarities, too. Both are based in Silicon Valley and are known for nurturing a culture of innovation. And, back in 2010, Tesla hired the man who designed Apple’s stores to create a similar retail concept for Tesla. More recently, Tesla hired Doug Field to be its new head of vehicle programs. Field was previously a vice-president of hardware engineering at Apple who led the development of such products as the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and iMac. He has also worked for Ford Motor Co.

Some analysts have argued that an Apple-Tesla partnership, or an outright purchase of the electric carmaker by cash-rich Apple, could help put reinvigorate the North American automotive industry by creating a new, cutting-edge global player.




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Is there an iCar in Apple’s future?

  1. and you will be allowed to drive it only on apple owned roads

  2. Just what everybody wants: a car that only syncs with iTunes and is intended to be obsolete in 2 years. If Tesla wants their cars to only be sold to Mac fanboi’s, then this is a great idea. If they want to sell to the masses, it’s the worst thing they could possibly do for themselves.

    • Meanwhile Zenn Motors of Montreal isn’t allowed by union protecting RIV Canada to sell $12,000 electric cars in Canada, it would upset the mismanagement of $50,000 Volt and union gouging.

      True 100% electric cars are cheap to build and expensive to maintain as a GM Volt battery is a $9000 OEM cost and their lithium batteries are consumable. A F150 big block V8 upscale Lariat s still cheaper in TCO than a Volt that has no real heat or air conditioning. And you know iCar (Apple) would be priced stupid like a Volt or Tesla.

  3. Like ‘em or hate ‘em, Apple revolutionized the pocket computer and music businesses. I think the category of ‘Mac fanboi’s’ is more mass than niche, Rick. If they can make a sexy, functional electric car with Tesla, the old combustion models from the big 3 may be just as passe as the Motorola flip phone.

    • Apple has less than 8% of the PC market share. I’d certainly call that niche. Their lead in mobile OS market share is evaporating at a shocking pace.

      Interesting analogy with Motorola. Are you aware that they no longer make just old flip phones? They make smart phones now that make the iPhone look like a kids toy. The rate at which other phone manufacturers are innovating dwarf’s anything Apple’s done in the last 5 years.

      So yes, “niche” is the appropriate term.

      • Actually, at the end of 2013, Apple’s market share was 13.7%, a 28.5% increase year over year.

        • Depends which market. Reality is Apple on average is losing world market share. For example, more people run Samsung tablets, phones than does Apple. Android based systems own the market and Apple is in reality a fringe player.

          China/Asia, the largest market int he world and Apple is sub 10%, often sub 3% of the market. But your numbers might be right in San Jose California, a smaller market.

  4. Apple is not interested in manufacturing. They specialize in taking existing pieces of technology in the market, integrating them with good software and getting a contract manufacturer to put it together for them. I don’t think that’s a feasible model in the car industry.

  5. Yes and no. In time no, in short term they might. I predict the electric car will kill off CAW/UAW companies completely. There is a Canadian company in Montreal that RIV union protectionism will not allow them to sell in Canada. A $12,000 electric car that a Walmart could service cheaply.

    While iCar may happen, it will like iPhones, never really be a mainstream player. The future will be standardized electric cars that Walmart can fix, cheap, standard motors, batteries for economics… You could even take the wheels off of a Ford and put them on a Chrysler. No expensive transmission repairs, motors in the wheel hubs, change them like tires.

    Fix them while you shop. As eventually all this expensive poorly thought out GM Volts will be on the garbage heap as will their inefficient designs.

    What is going to hinder the business is going to be soaring electricity prices and our governments are already studying how to tax electricity like gasoline. Chines pay 3.5 cents a KWH off the Yangze Dam, we pay 35 cents a KWH with all the hidden fees/taxes already….

    Apple will never be a mainstream player in the electric car business. It doesn’t even make its own iPads.

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