Here’s what we know about Apple’s secret car project

Is the iCar around the corner?

Mar 1, 2020, 10:37 am*

Tech

 

Taylor Hatmaker

After some kind of mysterious Apple vehicle was spotted cruising around the Bay Area a week ago, rumors flew that Apple was either making a Google Street View competitor or making its own self-driving car. As it turns out, Apple’s secretive (but not quite stealthy) mystery project might not be taking aim at Google at all, but rather at Elon Musk‘s Tesla Motors.

Just about everything surrounding this updated rumor sounds fishy and very un-Apple-like to us, but here’s what we know. Business Insider reports that it received an unsolicited message from someone who works at Apple. In the email, the supposed Apple employee confided that Tesla workers were leaving Musk’s company to join the “vehicle development” team at Apple. According to the anonymous emailer, “Apple’s latest project is too exciting to pass up. I think it will change the landscape and give Tesla a run for its money.”

Apparently it’s a two-way street. As Bloomberg recently reported, Tesla has hired away at least 150 former Apple employees. Between their design philosophy and the perceived prophetic brilliance of their respective leaders (and former leaders), Tesla and Apple do have a few parallels. 

The notion that Apple might be working on its own vehicle seems extremely far afield, considering the company’s core business and the huge head start that companies like Google and Tesla enjoy in self-driving cars and electric vehicles, respectively. And yet, we’re left with this strange comment. Of course, it’s worth remembering that the Apple Watch is just around the corner, so really, anything is possible.

Apple has developed its own in-dash software, Apple CarPlay, in coordination with iOS. Still, we’re reminded of a hint that Apple CEO Tim Cook made in an earnings call all the way back in July of 2013: “Having something in the automobile is very, very important. I think that Apple can do this better than anyone else.” 

If Cook was just talking about some auto industry software partnerships remains to be seen, but Apple is making moves to own the road. We’re just not quite sure what that looks like yet.

Photo via Apple

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*First Published: Feb 9, 2015, 9:26 pm