Is Apple Serious About Making Cars? Their Interest in Car Companies: Explained

Chaitanya Tapase

Apple is a tech company, but one that has been producing high quality products. Even when the whole world was balking at the idea of their ‘insanely priced MP3 player’, the company had the last laugh when the iPod went on sale. A similar trend followed with the iPhone and that recently led to the company having its most successful quarter ever. Apple can do a lot of great things in tech, but building cars? What’s the point?

“And here is the very first Apple Car!” – Tim Cook in 2020. Probably | Shutterstock

New (Albeit Bold) Segment

To look at why Apple might do something so drastic, we need only to look back at the history of this iconic brand. They started out of a garage, with Steves Job & Wozniak, trying to build computers. They made some good computers, made them smaller and cooler. But computing was their forte, their core business and what they were good at.

Apple has come a long way since the original Macintosh | Source: Wikimedia Commons
Apple has come a long way since the original Macintosh | Source: Wikimedia Commons

So, imagine this company talking about an MP3 player. And launching it for $400. Apple was taking a risk back then, in 2001, as it was again taking one in 2007. When Steve Jobs introduced the world to the iPhone.

Agreed, these 2 products still lie in the realm of technology. But cars? The confluence of tech & automobile is hitting just the right notes for Apple to take notice and be a part of it. Google has driverless tech under their belts, Tesla is working on fully autonomous cars and Uber has tested a few already. There are more powerful computers inside our cars than those which helped mankind get to the moon.

So, why would Apple stay quiet? If nothing, they can secretly keep working at some kind of automobile technology and see if it goes anywhere. Oh but wait, they have been doing that.

Meet Project Titan

The man behind Tesla Cars, Elon Musk, once famously said that Apple working on an electric car is an ‘open secret’. It seemed logical, because Apple was hiring people who had experience in electric cars. Not just 1 or 2, but plenty of them. Elon said it best when he observed-

It’s pretty hard to hide something if you hire over 1,000 engineers to do it.

However, it must be said that this project has had its share of ups and downs. Especially with the recent layoffs, we’re not terribly sure what is happening at Apple’s ‘Open Secret’ Car Project.

Rebooting Apple Car?

The layoffs weren’t a secret either. Apple said that these were part of a “reboot” and their concentration will shift to the underlying technology in self-driven cars. Then what of the Apple Car? Why the rumors about interest in McLaren?

The McLaren Angle

For those of you know who didn’t know, McLaren is a British automobile car maker, with a rich history in making supercars as well as F1 cars. According to the story that broke on Financial Times, Apple seemed interest in a takeover. From a purely ‘high-end car tech’ point of view, this makes sense, especially since McLaren has been making losses and the figure quoted was around 1 to 1.5 billion Euros.

Is McLaren a good company to buy for Apple? | Marukosu / Shutterstock.com
Is McLaren a good company to buy for Apple? | Marukosu / Shutterstock

That’s less than half of what Apple paid to acquire Beats and about the same amount it paid for Didi Chuxing aka China’s Uber. But it didn’t take long for some people to theorize that Apple’s motive are deeper than what meet the eye.

Alejandro Salomon, or “Salomondrin” aka the ‘Donald Trump of the car community’, floated an idea that Apple is making this investment to evade the $14.5 billion back taxes it owes Ireland. The live video he recorded has the reasoning behind his claims, but it’s pretty far-fetched.

Apple was also said to be interested in Lit Motors, a start-up that has developed an electric self-balancing motorcycle. Apparently, Apple has already hired several engineers from the start-up and we are reminded again about Elon Musk’s words.

Where Will it Go?

It’s too early to say where all this speculation leads us to. We know that over the years Apple has perhaps not innovated as much as making things better by repackaging them. And this is their shot at doing that to automobiles or the tech behind automobiles.

But what do you guys think? Meet us in the comments with your wild theories.

ALSO READ: GT Explains: The Different Levels of Autonomous Vehicle

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Chaitanya Tapase has varied interests in Technology from Android to Windows to DSLR Photography. On weekends, you'd find him catching up on TV Shows like Game of Thrones and enjoying House Music.