Automakers in Geneva cautious, 'concerned' about 'disruptive interloper' Apple

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited March 2015
As the automotive glitterati descends on Switzerland for the first industry powwow since rumors of an Apple Car began swirling, executives from some of the world's largest automakers have opened up about the possibility of counting the iPhone maker as a competitor.




"Apple has credibility and much more capacity to finance itself than any car producer, but I wouldn't underestimate the ability of the car industry to respond and adapt to the provocation," Fiat Chrysler chief executive Sergio Marchionne said at the Geneva Motor Show, according to the Wall Street Journal. Marchionne welcomed a potential entry from Cupertino, but cautioned that it may be a bumpy road.

"It's exactly what this industry needed: a disruptive interloper," he added, saying that he was "concerned about somebody of [Apple's] caliber playing the disruptor role."

"It's a good thing but when you are one of the guys whose life is being disrupted then you are not necessarily looking forward to the event."
"The traditional thinking in the automotive industry isn't suited to exploit the opportunities in the Internet community. If you need committees and so on to make decisions, then you've lost before you started." -- Jaguar engineering chief Wolfgang Ziebart
Apple was not the only Silicon Valley company contributing to the buzz at the century-old exhibition, with Google -- which has its own well-publicized autonomous vehicle project -- also drawing attention.

"If these two companies intend to solely produce electric vehicles, it could go fast," Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn said. Winterkorn added that his group, the largest automaker in the world, would be happy to work side-by-side with Apple or Google, a sentiment echoed by Toyota's Didier Leroy.

"The key element is to make sure that when we're working with them -- and we're totally open to work with any of them -- it's a real win-win," Leroy said. "The carmakers don't want just to become a kind of commodity, where somebody will only deliver an empty box and somebody will put in the box something which will be the real added value."

Both Apple and Google have begun making plays for in-vehicle infotainment systems, offering up CarPlay and Android Auto, respectively. Some have suggested that recent Apple Car rumors actually point to an expansion of CarPlay to a more full-featured entertainment and telematics system that car companies could adopt wholesale, rather than an actual vehicle.

BMW sales executive Ian Robertson said that the German marque would "never underestimate" new entrants despite the complexities of the auto industry, while Stefan Bratzel, director of the Center of Automotive Management at Germany's University of Applied Sciences, cautioned that "the competition certainly needs to be taken seriously."

"The closer we get to autonomous driving, the weaker the connection becomes between the customer and the car," Bratzel said. "And Google and Apple aren't burdened with old technology but can start fresh."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 76
    island hermitisland hermit Posts: 6,217member

    Apple has climbed the mountain. From "beleaguered" to "interloper".  lol!

  • Reply 2 of 76
    Bratzel talking about getting closer to autonomous driving is mad. It's not going to happen. We'll have pilotless airlines before we have driverless cars.

    As to Apple getting into the car industry generally, I think that after the GTAT sapphire hoo-haa, companies are now wary of trusting Apple and are therefore more reluctant to enter into partnerships than they might have been.

    I'd love a hybrid iCar. Volkswagen have always struck me as most closely aligned to Apple, though most people tend to say BMW. If Apple were to price at a Volkswagen level, they would gain mass adoption. They wouldn't at a BMW level.

    Volkswagen once announced that they were going to bring out an iBeetle, a car specially made to fit with Apple gear, but it never happened. Perhaps they will now announce a new alliance.
  • Reply 3 of 76
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,608member

    “Disruptive interloper” I love it!

     

    " but I wouldn't underestimate the ability of the car industry to respond and adapt to the provocation,"

     

    You mean like the music industry and mobile industry “responded and adapted” to the provocation? This is hilarious!

  • Reply 4 of 76
    island hermitisland hermit Posts: 6,217member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post

     

    “Disruptive interloper” I love it!

     

    " but I wouldn't underestimate the ability of the car industry to respond and adapt to the provocation,"

     

    You mean like the music industry and mobile industry “responded and adapted” to the provocation? This is hilarious!


     

    If it really is true that Apple is building a car then, at least, everyone is getting a warning well in advance. It would be interesting to see if they would fare any better.

  • Reply 5 of 76
    "It's a good thing but when you are one of the guys whose life is being disrupted then you are not necessarily looking forward to the event."

    Don't you wish you heard this from every CEO? You know, truth and the acceptance that this is both scary yet exciting and good for everyone.
  • Reply 6 of 76
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,558member
    Considering the time it takes to develop, manufacture and market a new vehicle these guys better get cracking.
  • Reply 7 of 76
    6ryph3n6ryph3n Posts: 47member
    These seem like far more intelligent people than MS/Google execs. Instead of scoffing at the idea and pointing out Apple's inexperience in the field (like Ballmer) they're taking it seriously and recognizing that it could be a game changer that they should try to be a part of instead of resisting.
  • Reply 8 of 76
    ipilyaipilya Posts: 185member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by 6ryph3n View Post



    These seem like far more intelligent people than MS/Google execs. Instead of scoffing at the idea and pointing out Apple's inexperience in the field (like Ballmer) they're taking it seriously and recognizing that it could be a game changer that they should try to be a part of instead of resisting.



    This seems to me to be the first time that Apple is (potentially) entering a new segment and the current players are taking it seriously. 

  • Reply 9 of 76
    bloggerblogbloggerblog Posts: 1,808member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Benjamin Frost View Post



    I'd love a hybrid iCar. Volkswagen have always struck me as most closely aligned to Apple, though most people tend to say BMW. If Apple were to price at a Volkswagen level, they would gain mass adoption.

    I think most people would align Apple with Tesla Motors who is definitely and interloper. They won Consumer Report's car of the year for the second year in a row, with a test score of 99 out of 100. They already have auto drive functionality, and a kickass console. Not to mention over the air firmware updates that recently improved the car's acceleration and previously incorporated a Valet option. Let's not forget how Jony hit it off with Elon in a recent event ;)

  • Reply 10 of 76
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    Wow these guys are being good sports. I know a few weeks ago some manufacturers were panicking and trash talking.

    It's funny how Apple always steals shows they're not participating in.
  • Reply 11 of 76
    waterrocketswaterrockets Posts: 1,231member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Benjamin Frost View Post



    Bratzel talking about getting closer to autonomous driving is mad. It's not going to happen. We'll have pilotless airlines before we have driverless cars.

     

    We'll have to see on this one. An Audi drove itself and passengers from Los Angeles to Las Vegas for CES, but there weren't any airliners doing that.

  • Reply 12 of 76
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bloggerblog View Post

     

    I think most people would align Apple with Tesla Motors who is definitely and interloper. They won Consumer Report's car of the year for the second year in a row, with a test score of 99 out of 100. They already have auto drive functionality, and a kickass console. Not to mention over the air firmware updates that recently improved the car's acceleration and previously incorporated a Valet option. Let's not forget how Jony hit it off with Elon in a recent event ;)


    Couple the inroads that Tesla has made with this first auto-executive's quote... "Apple has credibility and much more capacity to finance itself than any car producer". Then add a dose of reality that Apple's ability to keep new strategies secret until the last minute, and I think it makes a lot of sense very quickly why any exec would take Apple seriously.  In a matter of months (however long it would take for the legal process of a Tesla acquisition to start sending out ripples) everything could change!

  • Reply 13 of 76
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    Originally Posted by island hermit View Post

    If it really is true that Apple is building a car then, at least, everyone is getting a warning well in advance. It would be interesting to see if they would fare any better.


     

    ‘Course not. They conspired against Tucker’s innovations and wound up not implementing them for decades, if at all. They wouldn’t care about Apple until it was too late.

  • Reply 14 of 76
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by iPilya View Post

     



    This seems to me to be the first time that Apple is (potentially) entering a new segment and the current players are taking it seriously. 


     

    Well, they didn't take the Japanese seriously in the 1970s and look were it got them :-).

    Think they learned that lesson.

  • Reply 15 of 76
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,868member
    Apple should also hire a few high end aircraft engineers and be seen with a tricked out small jet at a few airports. Keep all these rumors going.
  • Reply 16 of 76
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,868member
    foggyhill wrote: »
    Well, they didn't take the Japanese seriously in the 1970s and look were it got them :-).
    Think they learned that lesson.

    Yet history repeated itself. Just look at all the cheap crap from Korea that came in 20 years ago under the Toyota, Nissan and Honda radar, now they are accepted as on par and are probably hurting the original interlopers big time.
  • Reply 17 of 76
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

     

     

    ‘Course not. They conspired against Tucker’s innovations and wound up not implementing them for decades, if at all. They wouldn’t care about Apple until it was too late.




    It is true that what auto companies "say" is completely different than what they might actually "do". Just because they're smart enough to stick to talking points that sound innocuous, doesn't mean they will actually behave equally as intelligent. They are profit-driven companies, and it behooves them to resist Apple as much as possible while copying/stealing the best parts in the process.

    Their biggest disadvantage being none of them are as rich as Apple and couldn't quickly buy their way into whatever advancements Apple is able to introduce.

  • Reply 18 of 76
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,666member
    Bratzel talking about getting closer to autonomous driving is mad. It's not going to happen. We'll have pilotless airlines before we have driverless cars.
    Actually many systems on a modern airliners are close to being pilotless right now. As for cars I see it being a very long ways off myself, especially in the snowy north where at times seeing the road is very difficult. Further things like traction control work agianst you to get you where you are going. I'm sure they could sell a car into this market but honestly a manual option is needed.
    As to Apple getting into the car industry generally, I think that after the GTAT sapphire hoo-haa, companies are now wary of trusting Apple and are therefore more reluctant to enter into partnerships than they might have been.
    Why? Apple didn't fial here and their terms wheren't unusual.
    I'd love a hybrid iCar. Volkswagen have always struck me as most closely aligned to Apple, though most people tend to say BMW. If Apple were to price at a Volkswagen level, they would gain mass adoption. They wouldn't at a BMW level.
    Unless Apple has a significant break through battery wise they will need to have hybrid capabilities to interest me. There simply aren't enough charging options to justify an all electric if you expect to travel any distance often. I'd really prefer an iTruck to be honest. Something like a pickup that is versatile and not limiting like a sedan. Note I said like a pickup, there are many passable variations on the theme possible here and even a small van has its possibilities.

    The other possibility here is iMotorcycle. I'm just not the type of guy that wants a driveway filled with automobiles, I'm a one vehicle man! However an electric motor cycle might be interesting as a second vehicle. There is lots of potential here for electric motorcycles as you can get away with smaller batteries and it is common that they are used for commuting and short distance rides.
    Volkswagen once announced that they were going to bring out an iBeetle, a car specially made to fit with Apple gear, but it never happened. Perhaps they will now announce a new alliance.

    Possibly but they currently sell nothing of interest to me.

    The interesting thing here is that Apple would need to either enter into partnerships soon or buy a plant someplace. I'm really hoping too that they don't go the China route with production. It is one side to buy imported electronics when that industry left the states years ago, it is another thing to contribute to the end of the industry in the US.
  • Reply 19 of 76
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

     
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Benjamin Frost View Post



    Bratzel talking about getting closer to autonomous driving is mad. It's not going to happen. We'll have pilotless airlines before we have driverless cars.


    Actually many systems on a modern airliners are close to being pilotless right now. As for cars I see it being a very long ways off myself, especially in the snowy north where at times seeing the road is very difficult. Further things like traction control work agianst you to get you where you are going. I'm sure they could sell a car into this market but honestly a manual option is needed.

    Quote:

    As to Apple getting into the car industry generally, I think that after the GTAT sapphire hoo-haa, companies are now wary of trusting Apple and are therefore more reluctant to enter into partnerships than they might have been.


    Why? Apple didn't fial here and their terms wheren't unusual.

    Quote:

    I'd love a hybrid iCar. Volkswagen have always struck me as most closely aligned to Apple, though most people tend to say BMW. If Apple were to price at a Volkswagen level, they would gain mass adoption. They wouldn't at a BMW level.


    Unless Apple has a significant break through battery wise they will need to have hybrid capabilities to interest me. There simply aren't enough charging options to justify an all electric if you expect to travel any distance often. I'd really prefer an iTruck to be honest. Something like a pickup that is versatile and not limiting like a sedan. Note I said like a pickup, there are many passable variations on the theme possible here and even a small van has its possibilities.



    The other possibility here is iMotorcycle. I'm just not the type of guy that wants a driveway filled with automobiles, I'm a one vehicle man! However an electric motor cycle might be interesting as a second vehicle. There is lots of potential here for electric motorcycles as you can get away with smaller batteries and it is common that they are used for commuting and short distance rides.
    Quote:

    Volkswagen once announced that they were going to bring out an iBeetle, a car specially made to fit with Apple gear, but it never happened. Perhaps they will now announce a new alliance.




    Possibly but they currently sell nothing of interest to me.



    The interesting thing here is that Apple would need to either enter into partnerships soon or buy a plant someplace. I'm really hoping too that they don't go the China route with production. It is one side to buy imported electronics when that industry left the states years ago, it is another thing to contribute to the end of the industry in the US.

     

     

    You're being disingenuous about pilotless planes. There's a big difference between automated systems and pilotless. I think that any pilot of a commercial airline will tell you that we're nowhere near having a pilotless service.

     

    I hate motorbikes with a passion. They're extremely noisy, extremely antisocial and cause huge numbers of deaths and accidents, along with the ensuing sorrow of those left alive, particularly as the bikers tend to be young. I suppose electric could be quieter, but they'll still be death on wheels.

     

    On the other hand, I'd love to see an iBicycle. Apple could dedicate it to the memory of Jobs, not because he cycled, but as a reference to the bicycle of the mind.

  • Reply 20 of 76
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,666member
    "It's a good thing but when you are one of the guys whose life is being disrupted then you are not necessarily looking forward to the event."

    Don't you wish you heard this from every CEO? You know, truth and the acceptance that this is both scary yet exciting and good for everyone.

    Having spent a few hours in Detroit I've gotten the impression that those involved in the auto industry are a lot smarter than they are often given credit for. This industry is nothing like what Apple dabbles in as there is no clear cut market leader in every segment. Competition is very real and strong in the auto industry and frankly this makes for a good development ground for strong and wise leadership teams. Also there is al sorts of tech to consider in making an automobile. For example Ford just ran a highe project it use an extensive amount of aluminum in its new pickups. It might seem like a small change to the cell phone market where materials can change yearly but here much research and production line building had to take place to pull this off in a truck. Meanwhile they had to make sure the rest of the vehicle didn't suffer from developmental neglect. Ford employees massive teams to pull this off and frankly that is just an improvement to an outstanding product.

    So I have to wonder if Apple is actually building an automobile where is the massive team? This is what puzzles me, there would be no way to hide the massive build up in engineers, designers and technicians to pull this off. We are talking thousands of employees here not hundreds. Apple could partner with another firm but then you would likely have a me too design built somewhat upon an existing chassis. To be seen as a new force in car development I really see Apple needing to bring new concepts to the chassis design.
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