Five reasons we need an Apple Car, and why we may be waiting a while

Now feels like the right time for an Apple Car. This is why we should have one, and why we are unlikely it any time soon

Apple CarPlay
(Image credit: Future)

Rumors of an Apple Car continue to circle but, as yet we’ve seen no sign of one. Apple has performed various driving tests using other manufacturers’ vehicles but there have been no sketches or prototypes of an actual vehicle. The closest was a series of diagrams for internal cameras to avoid losing your phone, but again, not of the actual vehicle.

Just this week, the Korea Times has reported that Apple has been having conversations with Korean manufacturers with regards its electric vehicle plans. However, still noting concrete and still no deal on the table – if indeed, Apple were to partner with an existing automaker.

As the EV world rapidly gains pace, now would be a great time for Apple to officially confirm its plans and even show some concepts. Apple has a massive fan base eager for any news and ready to put down a deposit. But maybe there will never be an Apple Car and the project will never see the light of day. I’m sure it wouldn’t be the first big project to be shelved inside One Infinite Loop.

Here’s why I think the EV market and the public need an Apple Car, as well as why I think it won’t happen.

Five reasons why

1. It would be part of your network

Apple has built an ecosystem of products that work together and the iPhone already allows you to add digital car keys to your digital wallet. Imagine a car that doesn’t just pair with your phone but that can actually behave like your phone. The Apple Car is likely to be fully integrated to your iCloud and the rest of your devices. Find your car as you would your AirTags, use Siri to control your car’s entertainment, air conditioning, maps and even handling.

2. It would have the Apple look

If there’s one thing that Apple is known for it’s design. Apple products look great, even on the inside and you instantly recognize its style. Imagine a car with the same design sensibilities as the new iMac or the iPhone 12. This would be something modern, fresh and undeniably Apple. It’s unlikely to conform to the norms of the auto industry but would be as classic as a supercar.

3. It will push automakers to innovate

With a few exceptions, most new electric vehicles don’t fall far from their gas-guzzling cousins. In places the design has been made a little different but it’s rarely a massive leap. Apple once used the slogan ‘think different’ and it has the opportunity to use this ethos in its car design. There’s a chance here to not just repeat what has already been done but create a more natural user experience. Tesla has already gone some way to doing this but Apple could really rock the boat.

4. The time is right

In the last few years, the landscape for electric cars has changed. Batteries are able to provide respectable ranges, charging times have been vastly reduced and the network of chargers now covers much of the US, Europe and beyond. Equally there is now an acceptance of autonomous driving technologies that would make it easier to get them approved. In other words, a lot of the hard work has already been done.

5. Only Apple can challenge Tesla

Tesla have proved many people wrong and completely revolutionized the car market, from the acceptance of electric vehicles to the way they are sold. While there have been some other great electric cars, no one company has challenged the way that Tesla operate. Apple has the opportunity to do that. Like Tesla, it is an outside to the automotive market and therefore has a different way of thinking. Apple Automotive could pave the way to new buying processes and technologies.

And why we’ll never see an Apple Car

1. Out of its comfort zone

Apple has no experience building cars and while it has broken into new markets over the years, this is a bigger jump than any of them. Yes, Apple can bring in specialists, and we know that they have already recruited for automotive positions, but this is not like moving from computers to phones.

What we have seen in recent years is actually a pairing down of Apple’s product lines, with areas where it didn’t feel it was able to compete taken off the table, like its Airport and Time Capsule routers and storage devices.

2. Partnership could damage the brand

The idea of Apple joining forces with an existing automaker makes sense in terms of logistics and industry knowledge, however, it could be a risky move for Apple. Current car manufacturers all come with their own reputations and any Apple Car produced by that company would also carry with it any preconceived ideas of that company. Even the use of parts from an existing manufacturer is bound to have connotations.

3. Would be hard to go it alone

Alternatively, the process of Apple setting up its own vehicle manufacturing plants seems like such a huge undertaking that it would be almost unimaginable. While other new car manufacturers have had the luxury of starting small, Apple’s brand identity would mean that it would need to hit the ground running, and that means a lot of vehicles.

4. Apple likes to be in control

Perhaps the reason that any partnership or supply of car parts wouldn’t work is that Apple likes to be in control of its entire process. It’s known for being a tough negotiator with its suppliers and a manufacturer may worry that Apple would soon take over. In fact, Apple buying out an automaker almost seems more likely than a partnership in many ways. Though Apple famously turned down the opportunity to buy Tesla back in 2016.

5. What we’ll see instead

The most likely outcome is that Apple will continue to develop its in-car technology. This could still deliver the Apple ecosystem and work much like an Apple product but this would be installed into a range of vehicles. Much like Bose and Harman Kardon provide high-end audio systems for vehicles, Apple would provide high-end technology for premium models. If this works, closer partnerships could be formed and maybe one day an Apple badged vehicle. I really hope I’m wrong and there’s an Apple concept car on the way but this feels more realistic.

Mat Gallagher

As T3's Editor-in-Chief, Mat Gallagher has his finger on the pulse for the latest advances in technology. He has written about technology since 2003 and after stints in Beijing, Hong Kong and Chicago is now based in the UK. He’s a true lover of gadgets, but especially anything that involves cameras, Apple, electric cars, musical instruments or travel.