Is The Apple iCar Real?
Is The Apple iCar Real?
Is The Apple iCar Real (Project Titan)
This question follows reports Apple approached McLaren about a potential acquisition. Many of us own an iPhone, or an iPad, but are we ready for a driverless iCar?
The latest iPhone 7 is expected to roar past 100 million in handset sales this year. But it appears Apple is looking to take a bite out of Ron Dennis' growing empire. Silicon Valley's finest meets Surrey's fastest. This would represent a strategic swerve for the Californian company.
It is not really in Apple's style to just make software for someone else's hardware. I bet that Apple's going to make a car of its own eventually, it just may take some years and whether they do that with McLaren's help or not, I'm sure it will happen sooner than later.
McLaren though, pumped the brakes on speculation in a statement. Tech analysts say the sale, if it gets past the start line, would boost Apple's secretive car project codenamed Titan. It looks as if they may have entered the game a bit late, so buying up a very, very high-tech car company which has very high capability and electronics looks like a pretty smart move.
Apple have a history of not really making things but getting other people to make things to their design, so I am sure that is likely to continue. Especially as carmaking is so different to mobile phone-making. And with self driving cars set to expand in the future, Apple may be looking for a chance to gain pole position in another multibillion-dollar marketplace.
The fly on the wall conversation we had with a couple of industry experts is below.
McLaren Automotive and Apple
McLaren and Apple, many people would say that's a match made in heaven. It may well be but personally I can't see it. McLaren are not normally so secretive so I can't see why they would have leaked this story and I don't see why Apple would either.
From what I know I'd say it is an unlikely match but who knows? I'm not on the inside. Why would a company like Apple not want to be bedfellows with McLaren? Obviously there are so many opportunities that could arise from that.
If you look at McLaren, they've got a great heritage and great experience. Everyone knows who they are. This would be the opportunity for Apple to buy in some of that experience and credibility they don't currently have in the car industry. They've done it before, look at when they acquired Beats. They were adding more experience and expertise to help the business grow. One third of their revenues are based around the iPhone. They are looking to expand and grow. It's exciting if it is even a potential. They would suit each other, they've got similar cultures and hopefully it could happen.
I can see you shaking your head! Not convinced?
I am all for driverless cars when the time is right. I think we are still a long way off the technology being there for completely driverless cars. Who can forget all the tragic accidents in the Tesla (while it was set to auto pilot). I think if Apple were going to be looking to get into bed with another big manufacturer, it wouldn't be McLaren. I didn't think they are the most likely fit. I think there are many other smaller companies Apple could get involved in that are also pioneering the technology. I just don't see how the Formula 1 heritage a would fit, i mean how would it inspire drivers with the confidence of getting into a driverless car? In terms of technical expertise from both sides, what would each of those companies be able to learn from each other for their own respective businesses?
There's an incredible amount, if you look at McLaren, yes they are a Formula 1 racing company, but hey also create some incredible road cars which rely on lightweight technology and the latest innovation in the sector. That innovation is something Apple looks too with all of their products. Also they are not just a racing car company, their technology is used by Heathrow for the landing gears for planes. The actual gate that gets allocated is based on McLaren technology. They've got a partnership with GlaxoSmithKline, that has created them over $100 million so far. So this method has already been applied outside of the car industry, they have dabbled in many sectors. It can adapt and mould and they've got some great innovation. McLaren's applied technologies Branch have got some incredible people.
One of the things Apple is really interested in is bringing in new cars every couple of years. McLaren have to be able to bring in new cars every week because of Formula 1 racing and the technology they've pioneered is in every single Formula E car. The infrastructure and data that comes from Formula 1 and racing allows them to monitor what is going on in every single one of those cars. That data could be incredibly useful to Apple when looking at traffic mapping of giving some intelligence to driverless cars.
Project Titan is the name that people have given to the investment, nothing has been confirmed and it's always been assumed it would be much later, perhaps 2020. This might not be true, but it shows potentially an intense. In the next few years we are moving into an area where Apple could bring in some expertise to be players in a space where Tesla, Google and others are already experimenting. For many of these companies is it not about showing competitors we can be bold, brave and look ahead to the future and make these drastic changes?
Absolutely, I think driverless cars are part of our future. Many people are nervous about it. I would implore them not to be nervous about it because I think it is the way things are going to be going. But I also think we aren't ready for driverless cars yet which is why the technology is still many years away. At the moment we still have the question of responsibility. If you have an accident in a driverless car is it your responsibility as the driver or a manufacturer? There are so many grey areas which is why I don't think we are there quite yet.
It is definitely somewhere in the car market is going and we need to embrace this technology because it will transform our lives and ultimately make roads safer. What other companies are looking into the idea for driverless cars and how far away are we from seeing them on our roads readily? I think we are still awhile away. So there is an obviously but there is a big flaw in this, and that is the success of the iPhone, and indeed the massive profits of the Apple company, are based on the fact of their mass appeal, they are mass appeal products, they have got to appeal to not exactly the man, woman or child in the street, but they have got to sell in big numbers, and they have sold in big numbers.
McLaren is that the complete opposite end of the scale, I mean, when is the last time you saw a McLaren on the road? I see about one a year. So I am surprised that Apple is not expressing more interest in a more mainstream company, so they can actually sell more products to more customers, because that's what it's about, at the end of the day.
That may well be why the FT caveat, in its its story, was saying it didn't know whether Apple will still interested after a change in strategy at its car plant. Talk to us a bit more about McLaren's applied technologies, that part of the business? All of us understand the Formula 1 side of things but they have taken their ingenuity, their expertise, and put it into industries would not necessarily associate with McLaren. I mentioned the medical field, which interests me in particular, and if you think of the ever-changing use of all phones, in terms of self-monitoring, that is a very interesting development.
And of course it has always been said, you know, when cynical people have said over the decades what is the point in Formula 1, what is the point in all this horrendously expensive lightweight, crushable materials that they are using on Formula 1 cars? Of course the argument goes that it filters down to more everyday products, just as it is with the space programme. And we are seeing some evidence of that, we are seeing what McLaren has learnt on the Formula 1 track and the products it has built the Formula 1 filtering down into road cars.
But I must come back to this point. We are talking here about products that are very, very rare indeed. Bought by very few people, and sadly, often by investors who never drive the thing is, they just buy them for the investment opportunity, hoping in 20 years' time their asset will increase in value. It was said to me once that it is not whether a McLaren customer buys a McLaren or a Ferrari, it is whether he buys a McLaren, a Ferrari, or an oil painting or a very expensive watch on that particular week. So that is the sort of customer base it goes to, and I would love to see Apple team up with an interesting, independent, mainstream company, I mean, why can't Apple team up with Jaguar Land Rover?
Maybe we could focus on one of those parts of the industry many people are picking will be a big thing, the driverless car, I don't know what the quarter express editorial line is on having a car without a steering wheel, I have to say I am not particularly pleased. But as you say, the idea that McLaren would be the best home for that, given the fact that you look at Google, elsewhere, people are a lot further along the line than Apple are at the moment, is it perhaps the high-tech aspect, the innovative aspect of McLaren that would make them the ideal partner the driverless cars? But again, it is a contradiction, because the very few people who buy McLaren is to drive them, they are the ultimate driver's car.
It is the last car you would want is a self driving, autonomous car. So there is a massive contradiction there. The ruse and very wealthy customers buy McLarens is that they want to be Formula 1 drivers on the road, effectively, or they are just absolute petrol head who love the joy of driving a pretty rapid speeds.
So an autonomous McLaren doesn't work for me, but coming back to the marriage made in heaven, as I should have said at ago, a company like Jaguar Land Rover, an interesting little Japanese company, like Masthay, very independent, another interesting independent company like Honda, very cutting-edge, it seems to me that Apple would be far better off teaming up with a company like that and getting the critical mass and the sales that they need.
The other thing I have got to say, there is talk today is only a billion or two as being the purchase price of McLaren, that includes the Formula 1 side presumably, and the road car side. I mean that is absolutely ridiculous, $1 billion is what Apple makes in profit in one week. We are talking about the world's most profitable company, and if they think they can go around the world picking off all these great brands like McLaren for a billion or two, I Beats, the headphone producer and designer that they purchased? They brought it up for billions of dollars, and then on their next generation iPhone they decide not to have a headphone socket.
Driverless cars are not new
Driverless cars are not new anyway! This driverless car system was tested at the UK's Transport Research Laboratory in the 1960s, 50 years before the recent green light for autonomous car testing on public roads. It used magnetic sensors to follow cables buried in the road.
Article Updated May 29th 2022
Article Written By Restore Solutions : October 3rd, 2016.