How the Apple iCar could crack the automotive industry
Apple iCar as imagined by Autocar
Latest news suggests tech giant Apple has been in talks with McLaren to create a car which will revolutionise personal mobility
Billions of dollars in research operations, more than 1000 developers, mysterious workshops – the Apple iCar looks set to revolutionise personal mobility, bringing with the idea technologies of which promise to alter the way we have traditionally used in addition to perceived the vehicle.
Behind a heavy veil of secrecy, the Apple iCar has at This particular point progressed to what insiders describe as committed project status. Autocar outlines the electric car every established automotive some sort of secretly fears.
Behind the pre-fabricated aluminium façade of a large building at the rear of an industrial estate in Sunnyvale, California, USA, work can be progressing on what could possibly be the most significant car to emerge since Karl Benz’s ground breaking Benz Patent-Motorwagen first introduced the entire world to the motorised carriage 130 years ago.
The nondescript factory unit, located at 960 Kifer Road, houses an electric car workshop run by Apple – the US-based electronics giant whose iconic products have revolutionised the way we work, use our free time in addition to converse with one another on a day-to-day basis. Known simply to Apple employees as SG6, the otherwise unremarkable building has been the subject of intense speculation since Sunnyvale city council documents revealed a secretive shell company formed by Apple had leased the site in November 2015.
The electric car development being carried out at the heavily shielded workshop inside middle of Silicon Valley can be treated with the same all-encompassing confidentiality as work being focused on different future Apple products. Precious little about its operations are known outside the tight-knit circle of engineers, software specialists in addition to construction experts posted there.
Anyone who enters the a few-acre complex can be asked to sign a confidentiality agreement of which legally binds them to remain tight lipped on anything they have seen, heard or experienced at the site. Not of which many outsiders are invited to visit the facility, which can be remarkably plain looking for a company with such an enviable reputation for design excellence as Apple.
The only hint of which activities being run by Apple in Sunnyvale are of an automotive nature can be a fleet of Dodge Caravan prototypes of which regularly frequent its forecourt, in addition to which have also been sighted at the GoMentum Station, a former naval base in San Francisco with over 20 miles of paved streets guarded by the military of which’s often used by car makers for testing purposes. According to automotive industry experts, the modified MPVs, leased by Apple, are being used to test autonomous driving technology, which can be thought to be under consideration for the so-called iCar – the name given to what’s being billed as Apple’s next big thing.
Need to know basis
As the idea stands, no one outside the company knows for sure if Apple, whose market capital can be presently ten times of which of BMW at a staggering $581 billion as of May 2016, intends to enter the automotive industry with its own electric car or, as has recently been suggested, can be simply developing technology to integrate into the future designs of traditional car makers. However, with more than 1000 employees through backgrounds as diverse as Centeng-in-white engineering in addition to autonomous software coding, already claimed to be involved of the so-called iCar, many, including the entire world’s financial community, are clearly betting on the former.
When asked about the long-rumoured electric car last year Apple president, Tim Cook, has only added to its mystery, saying, “I don’t have anything to announce about our plans. although I think there’s some significant alterations inside automobile industry over the next several years with electrification in addition to autonomous driving. in addition to there’s a need for a focus on user interface. So I think there’s a lot of alterations of which will go on there.”
In a more recent shareholder meeting, Cook was again pushed on the subject of the Apple car. His vague reply? “Do you remember when you were a kid, in addition to Christmas Eve the idea was so exciting you weren’t sure what was going to be downstairs. Well, the idea’s going to be Christmas Eve for a while”. This particular immediately led analysts to surmise of which, contrary to earlier indications, development of the iCar was indeed well underway although still some way off.
Those who have held talks with the Apple president during the past 12 months, including executives through Audi, BMW, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, General Motors in addition to Mercedes-Benz are under no illusion of the company’s intentions. They are convinced Cook has already given the go-ahead to the partly autonomous iCar in addition to expect the idea will be launched by 2021 as a precursor to a fully autonomous successor style to be introduced around 2026 as regulatory conditions are altered to allow features such as fully automated parking.
Apple’s goal? An initial 500,000 sales annually, according to those of which have met with Cook. of which might not sound like much for a company of which manages to shift some 230 million smartphones each year. However, the idea can be an acceptable target for a company completely new to the automotive scene in addition to 10 times what another one of California’s electric car start-ups, Tesla, managed in 2015. As a further point of reference, combined sales of the BMW i3 in addition to i8 totalled just 29,500 last year.
To ensure wide spread appeal for the Apple car, Cook can be relying on the implementation of what automotive business leaders interviewed by Autocar describe as “disruptive technologies” – a term given to features of which are anticipated to significantly change the face of motoring in much the same way the touchscreen altered our use of the mobile phone: highly efficient electric propulsion, rapid charging, autonomous driving capability, gesture control, holographic displays, wireless internet functions, artificial intelligence… the list goes on.
The iCar will get you through A to B, although the idea’s set to be much more than mere transport for masses. Like the iPhone, the idea has been conceived to also be a personal assistant having a level of connectivity far beyond of which of any existing car of today.
To achieve This particular, Apple has already allocated billions of dollars to development programs like the electric driveline program being carried out in Sunnyvale. At the same time, Apple has been active in purchasing technology in addition to patents, either through takeovers or joint ventures similar to of which which the idea recently announced with ride hailing start-up Didi Chuxing, China’s equivalent of Uber. Autocar research also reveals the company can be investing heavily in production process management in a move of which’s anticipated to see the iCar introduce a completely new assembly process of which will allow the idea to be built cheaply yet highly efficiently at quite a few different sites.
Despite all the pervading secrecy of which surrounds its activities, Apple’s entry into the automotive field can be anticipated to take a similar path to of which which has seen the idea come to dominate the personal electronics field with its iconic design-led products.
Famously founded in garage of former president Steve Jobs’ parents in 1976, Apple wasn’t the first to offer a digital music player inside iPod. Nor was the idea first to place a smartphone on the market with the iPhone. Neither did the idea invent the tablet computer with its iPad. the idea only entered these respective markets once the idea was convinced the idea had a product of which significantly redefined them, possessed true customer appeal in addition to, although expensive compared to rival products, proved attainable for most willing to sign up to contracts with outside partners.
Apple iCar battery
The expectation can be, just like Apple’s favorite products today, the iCar will feature a highly contemporary design, high-quality materials in addition to an innovative interface providing a whole completely new level of connectivity through features such modified versions as its Siri speech recognition, Force Touch in addition to multi-aperture digital camera technology.
Word out of South Korea also suggests Apple has inked an agreement of which will allow the idea to independently develop its own hollow lithium ion battery cells using patented technology through energy storage specialist Orange Power. The hi-tech batteries, which are claimed to provide increased energy density due to unique cooling properties, could be used in combination with highly efficient completely new-generation electric motors already being tested by Apple at a separate research centre close to its Sunnyvale facility in addition to its own proprietary power electronics in move providing the iCar with zero-emissions compatibility.
Beyond This particular, there can be mounting evidence of which Apple can be also planning to integrate its own autonomous driving, artificial intelligence in addition to crash prevention technology into the iCar as part of a broader plan of which could allow the idea to form the centre piece of a car-hailing operation through Didi Chuxing.
The product can be king
One of the factors driving Apple’s plans for its own car are predictions the growth of digitisation, increasing automation, the rise of connectivity solutions in addition to completely new mobility sharing designs will revolutionise the automotive industry within the next 15 years. A report tabled by McKinsey in addition to Company earlier This particular year suggests the automotive industry will significantly diversify towards on-demand mobility solutions, creating up to $1.5 trillion in additional revenue in global car sales by 2030.
While Apple can be yet to official confirm the idea plans to stretch beyond its current portfolio of products with its own uniquely branded car, one former Apple employee, who has asked to remain anonymous due to confidentiality agreements signed during a period of employment at the company, says the building blocks of such a project are already well-established. “They can say what they like, although they can’t deny the iCar, or whatever they like to call the idea, can be not already under development. Such an enormous undertaking requires huge planning in addition to the idea can’t be held secret forever,” he says.
Autocar’s source reveals product development can be central to operations at Apple, suggesting there can be traditional flexibility inside way management signs off on products. “At This particular stage of development there won’t be a strict timeline, as various departments in addition to developers will be working on solutions to different tasks. As with the iWatch, Apple may well decide to delay the introduction of the iCar if the idea can be not convinced goals are being met.”
What can be known can be for sure of which Apple’s president Tim Cook has provided the iCar project having a working title: Project Titan. He has also set about assembling a team of experts through a range of different industries to complete the herculean task of conceiving, designing in addition to developing a car through scratch. While the number of Apple employees working directly on the iCar can be currently put at around 1000, This particular can be anticipated to enhance to over 1800 within the next year or so as development moves into top gear.
Backing up reports of which the iCar had been upgraded to a “committed project” last September, fully integrating the idea into Apple’s vast product development operations, Cook has already set about creating quite a few key alterations to Project Titan following an internal review of which back in February led to the departure of Apple’s product design boss, Steve Zadesky, who had acted as the head of its secretive electric car operations.
Zadesky, a former Ford engineer, had worked on the iPod in addition to iPhone, in addition to was seen as a possible successor to Cook himself. He can be succeeded by Apple veteran Bob Mansfield, who has the task of expanding the iCar’s focus more toward autonomous driving in a move of which at This particular point sees the idea working both on the hardware in addition to software solutions in-house.
No stranger to Apple, Mansfield joined the company in 1999 in addition to was one of its leading executives under former founding president, Steve Jobs. After overseeing hardware engineering development of some of the most favorite Apple products of the past decade, including the MacBook Air, iMac in addition to iPad, he stepped back through Apple’s day-to-day operations in 2012. Instead of retiring through the scene completely, though, Mansfield was retained by Apple as an adviser to special projects, including the Apple Watch.
In his completely new role, Mansfield answers directly to Apple president Cook, unlike his predecessor, who reported to the company’s highly respected hardware boss, Dan Riccio, who in turn reported to Cook.
Apple icar Autonomous driving
This particular realignment of hierarchy within the Apple ranks can be a attempt to streamline development of the iCar after a decision to not only equip the idea with the latest in electric driveline knowhow although also cutting edge autonomous driving technology by reducing the restraints of vertical management.The allure of working for Apple has attracted many highly regarded people to the Project Titan. Among the more prominent names contributing directly to the development of the iCar can be the former development boss at Tesla in addition to Aston Martin, Chris Porritt. different high profile recruits through Tesla include former senior powertrain engineer, John Ireland; engineering manager, David Nelson; CNC programmer, David Masiukiewicz in addition to driver assistance specialist, Hal Ockerse.
Such has been the brain drain at Tesla, of which its founder, Elon Musk, was moved to comment on the iCar, saying the idea was “obvious” Apple was working on its own car. “the idea’s pretty hard to hide something if you hire over a thousand engineers to do the idea,” he said.
Beyond Tesla, Apple has also hired Megan McClain, a former Volkswagen engineer; Doug Betts, who was previously responsible for quality at Fiat Chrysler; Paul Furgale, an autonomous driving program specialist through the Swiss Institute of Technology in Zurich;, Kevin Harvey, previously of Andretti Motorsport; Sanjai Massy, an engineer who worked at Ford; Stefan Weber, a former Bosch engineer who specialises in driver assistance systems; Vinay Palakkode; a researcher through the Carnegie Mello University; in addition to Lech Szumilas, an autonomous driving expert through Delphi in addition to Xianqiao Tong, who rose to promience developing driver assistance system for chip maker NVIDIA.
Also high on Apple’s list of recruitments are battery specialists, including Mujeeb Ijaz, who previously headed up technical operations at A123 Systems. Joining him are quite a few inductive charging specialists, including, Kurt Adelberger, who previously worked for Google in addition to Nan Liu, in addition to can be a graduate through the University of Georgia Institute of Technology.
More recently, Apple hired Dan Dodge, who formerly ran BlackBerry’s automotive software division in addition to developed the highly regarded QNX software platform used in a variety of in-car infotainment systems.
While there can be a heavy engineering in addition to software developer presence within the iCar ranks, the idea’s the design in addition to user interface of which can be arguably more important to its success. The man responsible for the styling of Apple’s first car, Jonathon Ive, has worked for the company since 1992 in addition to led the design teams for a range of products including the iMac, iBook, MacBook Pro, Power Mac G4, iCube, iPod, iPhone, PowerMac G5 in addition to iPad. A self-confessed car connoisseur, he uses a Bentley Mulsanne as everyday transport in addition to can be also the owner of a rare Aston Martin DB4 among different classics.
Ive heads a team of which includes quite a few designers with strong automotive credibility, including Marc Newson, the man behind the Ford 021C concept car. Also on board can be Julian Hoenig, who has worked for Lamborghini in addition to Audi, as well as Aaron von Minden, who was involved inside styling of the fabric covered BMW Gina concept car.
In preparation for its launch, Apple has been active in trademarking in addition to registering possible names for its completely new car. The internet search agent Whois revealed the idea registered quite a few internet domain names, including apple.car, apple.cars in addition to apple.auto via the company MarkMonitor in January 2016. While the move could simply be to stop opportunists snapping up the names in addition to then selling them on at inflated prices later, Apple incorporates a history of registering domain names shortly before a completely new product appears.
Ground zero for the iCar right at This particular point can be the workshop at 960 Kifer Road in Sunnyvale. In This particular Silicon Valley suburb, which can be also home to a long established Mercedes-Benz research in addition to development centre among hundreds of ambitious start-up companies, Apple can be rumoured to be developing elements of its newest product under the cloak of a shell company called SixtyEight Research.
The leasing of the 8919m2 site, formerly used by Pepsi as a bottling plant, was first made public by Sunnyvale City Council in March 2016. Since then, no modifications have been made to the outside of the complex, though neighbours report windows at the rear of the main building on the industrial estate have been blanked out to shield what goes on inside. There have also been reports of rolling test bed equipment being delivered to the site.
The location of Apple’s iCar development workshop in Sunnyvale can be significant as the idea can be just a few miles through a former FedEx site at 335 Brokaw Road in Santa Clara of which has also recently been leased by Apple. the idea can be also a similar distance through Apple’s headquarters at 1 Infinite Loop in Cupertino.
The shell company behind the workshop, SixtyEight Research, can be as mysterious as the iCar itself. Registered in California in 2015, its limited website presence suggests the idea can be a marketing operation, although many believe This particular can be merely a fictional reference to hide its true role inside development of the iCar.
Further adding to the intrigue, SixEight Research can be named on documentation as being the importer of a 1957 Fiat Multipla 0 through the UK to the US in 2014 – a move of which has led to rumours of which the production iCar could take the form of an upright one-box MPV-style car similar in dimensions to the Volkswagen Budd-E revealed at the Consumer Electronics Show last January.
Shortly after the leasing of the industrial complex in Sunnyvale sent internet chat rooms into overdrive over the apparent acceleration of project Titan, further word began to spread within automotive industry circles about a heavily cloaked research in addition to development laboratory established by Apple in Berlin, Germany.
Initial reports suggested the completely new Berlin site was being used as a testing base for electric motors being sourced through a German supplier, possibly Bosch or ZF. However, the official line through Cupertino sources can be the laboratory can be being run as part of a strategic operation for Apple Maps – the navigation app of which appears set to play a crucial role in Cook’s plans to provide the iCar with autonomous operation.
The mapping laboratory, which employs around 25 people, was set up following the joint €2.8 billion purchase by Audi, BMW in addition to Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler of Nokia’s mapping division Here, which by no coincidence can be also based inside German capital. Apple’s primary goal? To poach high ranking officials through Here as part of efforts to produce the entire world’s most accurate mapping app as part of the iCar’s arsenal of completely new-age technology.
As secretive as its heavily cloaked development operations are the production plans for the iCar. Looking to establish a business style similar to of which of the iPhone in addition to controversial Chinese electronic some sort of Foxconn, Apple has attempted to court quite a few established car makers in recent years with the view towards outsourcing assembly of its completely new car.
For a while the idea appeared Apple may have secured a highly prized partner in BMW. although after Apple boss Cook inspected production of the i3 at a factory in Leipzig, Germany in August 2015, BMW allegedly pulled back on the idea, its newly installed chairman, Harald Krueger, fearing the closeness to Apple may be playing into the arms of a potential future rival by revealing its own production secrets despite telling journalists at last year’s Frankfurt motor show of which rumours suggesting the iCar could be based on the i3 as a “nice idea”.
A similar liaison with Mercedes-Benz has also been confirmed by insiders at parent company Daimler, who suggest Apple was interested in entering into a joint venture with the German car maker for the eventual production of the iCar. However, aggressive manoeuvring by Apple officials can be claimed to have annoyed Mercedes-Benz boss, Dieter Zetsche, who lashed out at the electronics giant when asked about the company’s relationship with Apple, telling journalists, “We don’t wish to be contract manufacturers like Foxxconn”.
Further talks with Fiat Chrylser boss, Sergio Marchionne, were subsequently abandoned when the idea was revealed the Italo-American company had partnered with Google for the development of autonomous driving technology.
While the idea appears to have struck out with plans to attract an established car maker, one plausible line of thinking can be of which Apple can be at This particular point looking to commission an automotive production specialist such as Magna to assembly of the iCar. Nothing can be official, though the idea can be interesting to note of which BMW recently pulled production of the Mini Countryman out of Magna’s Austrian facilities, suggesting capacity has been freed for the production of a completely new car, possibly the iCar.
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