5 Apple Car Secrets the World Shouldn't Forget

A concept envisioning the Apple Car 9 photos
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution/
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It's probably safe to say that the Apple Car was a failed project – one of the few flops in Apple's history, but after spending a fortune on its dream of building a vehicle, the iPhone maker still has a myriad of patents and technology that could become a money-making machine in the long term.
Apple has never publicly discussed the Apple Car project. The work on the vehicle started in 2014, with the company initially planning to develop a truly revolutionary self-driving car with Level 5 autonomous capabilities.

Apple didn't want to build "just another" self-driving vehicle. It wanted the Apple Car to be a turning point for the automotive industry despite the company having zero expertise in this sector. The Apple Car was supposed to launch without a steering wheel and pedals. It was based on the concept of a living room on wheels, and Apple would have allowed humans to take control using a gaming controller or an iPhone.

These ideas sound incredible, even 10 years after Apple started the project. All these targets proved too ambitious, even for a company the size of Apple, and it's hard to believe the industry would be at a point to make them happen in the next decade.

While the Apple Car will soon become history, and people will no longer talk about Apple's failed project, there are tidbits the world shouldn't forget. Today, I'll highlight five of the most important.

Mercedes was in pole position to build the car.

Apple Car renderings
Photo: Emre Husmen via Behance
Apple's desire to build a car started exactly how it was supposed to start. Apple is a technology company, so it has zero resources and know-how in the automotive space.

The first idea was to team up with a carmaker. People familiar with the project have dropped various hints throughout the years, so we already know that Apple has discussed Apple Car manufacturing with several carmakers, including Hyundai, Renault, and BMW.

Mercedes was the closest to building the Apple Car, though. Apple and the German carmaker reached an advanced negotiation stage, but the talks abruptly ended when Mercedes asked for something in return. The German carmaker agreed to build the Apple Car but wanted access to Apple's self-driving technology.

The partnership would have allowed Mercedes to launch a self-driving car with capabilities similar to the Apple Car. The iPhone maker didn't agree with the request, as it wanted Mercedes to be a simple contract manufacturer for its vehicle. The talks ended, so Project Titan remained without a manufacturer.

The Apple Car was Steve Jobs' dream.

Apple Car renderings
Photo: Concept Creator via YouTube
The project started in 2014, but Apple thought of an Apple Car much earlier. Apple founder Steve Jobs was the first to propose a vehicle, imagining that his company needed an iconic model with a legacy like the Volkswagen Beetle.

Jobs' ambitious strategy didn't come to fruition because of Apple's commitment to making the iPhone a hit.

The smartphone was in its early days, so Apple decided to use the available resources, including money and talent, to improve the iPhone.

Apple wasn't interested in Tesla but wanted its technology.

Apple Car renderings
Photo: tedoradze.giorgi via Instagram
We've known for a while that Elon Musk proposed Apple to take over Tesla, but depending on who you ask, it looks like Tim Cook didn't even want to accept the meeting.

However, while Apple wasn't interested in taking over Tesla, the Cupertino-based tech giant wanted some of its technology and suppliers.

It is believed that Apple contacted Tesla to discuss various supply deals, including for batteries, but the talks failed to come to a conclusion.

Apple wanted to buy McLaren.

Apple Car renderings
Photo: tedoradze.giorgi via Instagram
In its struggle to find someone to build the Apple Car, Apple eventually turned to plan B. The company's leadership team went shopping, and McLaren was the company they wanted to turn into an Apple asset.

Jony Ive, Apple's former chief designer, even wanted to move to London, set up a new office, and work with McLaren's engineers to build an Apple Car.

Like everything else in this project, the plan failed, so Apple never bought McLaren. It also explored other deals to take over carmakers, but when its strategy failed, Apple decided to embark on the ambitious adventure of building a car without help from a traditional carmaker.

The failed project cost $10 billion.

Apple Car renderings
Photo: Vanarama
Apple spent approximately $1 billion per year on new technology, Apple Car reboots, scaled-down strategies, and talent to bring Project Titan to mass production.

Overall, the technology giant spent $10 billion on the failed attempt to build an Apple Car, and while it all looks like wasted money, the company will probably turn its automotive patents and technology into a money-making machine.

Part of the technology will be used on other projects, including AI, with Apple to focus on software and services instead of building a car from scratch. CarPlay and Apple Maps will receive more love in the long term, as they are the only way the company can expand in the automotive space.
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About the author: Bogdan Popa
Bogdan Popa profile photo

Bogdan keeps an eye on how technology is taking over the car world. His long-term goals are buying an 18-wheeler because he needs more space for his kid’s toys, and convincing Google and Apple that Android Auto and CarPlay deserve at least as much attention as their phones.
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