Tesla thinks differently, just like Apple, and its over-the-air updates and focus on details means it may be hard for Apple to compete head-on.
Tesla treats its electric car more like technology than like a vehicle, which may make it harder for Apple to launch an electric car of its own. From over-the-air updates to the car’s operating system, lithium batteries powering the electric motor, Tesla’s different way of thinking about problems, and its insistence on keeping true to the original vision of a product, this is the sort of car that Apple would have made if it had entered the market several years ago.
Tesla launched its first electric vehicle in 2008, called the Roadster, which was a sports-car priced at just under $100,000. Revenue from the Roadster helped fund work on the luxury Model S, which assisted with work on the Model X. This was all leading up to the Model 3, the more affordable, but still very capable, electric car that the company wanted to build from the beginning. There is more work to be done since the company announced that it is planning to launch a car priced at $25,000, which would be an incredibly low cost for an electric passenger vehicle. Meanwhile, rumors of Apple researching an electric car started in 2014 and have persisted ever since, but the company has made no comment.
Tesla has had a bumpy ride but seems to have come out on top, being the most successful electric car manufacturer in the world currently with every other manufacturer playing catch up. If Apple moves forward with its rumored plans, it will face a tough opponent in Tesla as well as various domestic and foreign car manufacturers who have been gearing up to compete in the electric vehicle market in the last few years. Clearly, most were caught flat-footed and unprepared for the rapid pace of innovation and somewhat reckless abandon of upstart Tesla. Suddenly, almost every car brand is making or has plans to make an electric vehicle. Hyundai recently let slip that it was discussing the production of both an electric car and batteries with Apple, before walking back the statement, softening it to state that nothing had been decided and it was in talks with various companies. This leak continued with eDaily Korea reporting that Kia, a subsidiary of Hyundai, would be working with Apple on the car project. Kia’s public response was similar to its parent company, that it was reviewing possibilities with a number of overseas companies about autonomous electric vehicles, but did not disclaim the news that Apple might be one of those companies.
Will There Be An Apple Car?
Apple’s interest is expected to involve self-driving electric cars, but many have pointed out that there is not enough real-world data available for Apple to train its machine learning models to the level of sophistication that Tesla has. This would require partnering with another autonomous vehicle company such as Waymo, but there have been no leaks or suggestions of that happening. After all, Waymo is an Alphabet company, which is the parent of Google also. It’s wouldn’t be impossible for Waymo and Apple to work together or license tech and data from one another, but it seems unlikely. Apple has registered a few vehicles in California for self-driving tests, but this is nothing when compared to the large fleet of vehicles that collect anonymous driving data that Tesla has access to.
The rumors suggest it will still be several years before an Apple car may appear. Perhaps Apple will take an outside-the-box approach that lessens the competition with other car manufacturers. This is based purely on speculation, but a vehicle that is not very car-like could make more sense. Apple has patented VR imagery for use in a vehicle. Maybe the Apple car won’t even have the option of a traditional driver, instead having a passenger select a destination before being transported there autonomously with no concern for the route taken, leaving it to Siri to choose the best route. This could be the vision of fully autonomous transport that is often shown for concept cars, with passengers working or watching entertainment on a vehicle’s integrated display as they travel. It may seem odd at present, but five or ten years from now it could make complete sense. Redefining a market is what Apple is known for. Even so, transitioning to vehicles will be a big leap. Despite the uphill battle that Apple is likely to face, all signs point toward it driving forward with plans for an electric car with autonomous capabilities.
Next: Should Apple Make An iCar & Would It Really Be A Threat To Tesla?
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