Apple reportedly eyed BMW's i3 electric car as basis for branded vehicle

Posted:
in General Discussion edited July 2015
According to a report published Friday, Apple last fall initiated talks to partner with BMW on a rumored electric car project underpinned by the German automaker's i3 model before ultimately changing its mind.




Local publication Manager Magazin cites industry scuttlebutt as saying Apple reached out to BMW in 2014 to discuss the possibility of collaborating on an electric car. As part of the supposed deal, BMW's i3 commuter car would have served as the basis of Apple's vehicle.

It's not clear what automotive elements Apple planned to borrow from BMW, but a simple rebadging is unlikely. Potentially of interest to Apple was the German carmaker's "LifeDrive" architecture, a two-part design that separates i3's passenger cabin from its drivetrain and battery module.

Interest in the collaborative effort was such that Apple CEO Tim Cook visited BMW's electric car operations facility in Leipzig with a cadre of senior managers, the report said. It is unclear what Apple brought to the table, aside from almost unlimited investment capital, but the report suggested BMW is concerned that lower-than-expected i3 sales might impact its ability to build out the "i-series" range.

Apple might have offered to lend a hand in the battery technology department if rumors of a secret R&D initiative to develop advanced vehicle energy systems are to be believed. A major disadvantage to any current model electric car is range. BMW's i3, for example, gets about 80 miles on a charge or just under double that with an optional two-cylinder gas range extender. Battery technology is at the heart of the issue. Onboard large-format batteries are heavy, expensive and not easily serviced, but there is an ongoing effort within the industry to increase capacity, charge times and overall drivetrain efficiency.

In February, Apple was slapped with a lawsuit alleging it illegally poached high-ranking executives from A123, a battery maker whose technology has been applied in high-performance electric land vehicles. Court documents show Apple's recent hires worked on an advanced technology research team at A123 and were so critical to the division that it had to be shut down after their departure.

Whispers of Apple's car project, reportedly dubbed "Titan," gained momentum in February when reports claimed the company was working on a self-driving electric vehicle. Subsequent rumors have said the project is gobbling up human resources as management reshuffles talent away from core operating areas. As of February, one report estimated Titan's team consisted of "several hundred" workers.

AppleInsider uncovered evidence that Apple was indeed conducting car-related research in March. Apple recently leased a group of buildings located a short drive from its Cupertino, Calif., headquarters and modified the space to support garages, automotive repair bays and testing facilities.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 66

    Fascinating. Battery tech, mapping tech, liquidmetal, sapphire windshields.... But I don't believe BMW has the technology to produce car-sized solid blocks of aluminum for Apple to machine into a unibody auto.  :) Who does? Alcoa?

  • Reply 2 of 66
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 1,400member
    Apple needs to get into car building like Tesla and prove to world that Apple electric car is re-incarnation of iPhone 4 design, details and quality..
  • Reply 3 of 66
    blazarblazar Posts: 270member
    I want trent reznor on this project... apple Music is Amesome. I am ready for the apple car!
  • Reply 4 of 66
    solipsismysolipsismy Posts: 5,099member
    wood1208 wrote: »
    Apple needs to get into car building like Tesla and prove to world that Apple electric car is re-incarnation of iPhone 4 design, details and quality..

    If Apple Car had Tesla level sales (even from this year) it would be called a market failure.
  • Reply 5 of 66
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 18,472member
    [VIDEO][/VIDEO]
    solipsismy wrote: »
    wood1208 wrote: »
    Apple needs to get into car building like Tesla and prove to world that Apple electric car is re-incarnation of iPhone 4 design, details and quality..

    If Apple Car had Tesla level sales (even from this year) it would be called a market failure.

    Agreed. It wouldn't be anywhere near enough to move the needle. The Watch revenues alone in the first four quarters could equal or exceed Teslas revenues for the equivalent four quarters!
  • Reply 6 of 66
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,094member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SolipsismY View Post





    If Apple Car had Tesla level sales (even from this year) it would be called a market failure.



    Sadly... this is true.  You are spot-on Solips.  Apple would be screwed if they did, screwed if they didn't.

  • Reply 7 of 66
    solipsismy wrote: »
    If Apple Car had Tesla level sales (even from this year) it would be called a market failure.

    Because 70 million iPhones sold.
  • Reply 8 of 66
    solipsismysolipsismy Posts: 5,099member
    [VIDEO][/VIDEO]
    Agreed. It wouldn't be anywhere near enough to move the needle. The Watch revenues alone in the first four quarters could equal or exceed Teslas revenues for the equivalent four quarters!

    I'm expecting the Apple Watch segment will exceed all of Tesla's revenue and profits for 2015. That's not even adjusting the timeframes to compare first year on market. Tesla did $3.198 billion for 2014, and showed a 55% increase in unit sales YoY for the first quarter of 2015. Apple Watch will probably do at least 4x that and will actually have a healthy profit margin to boot.
  • Reply 9 of 66
    It would be far easier for Apple to simply BUY BMW. BMW costs only $60 BILLION. And it makes a huge profit which can then pay for the sale of itself to Apple.
  • Reply 10 of 66
    solipsismysolipsismy Posts: 5,099member
    jameskatt2 wrote: »
    It would be far easier for Apple to simply BUY BMW. BMW costs only $60 BILLION. And it makes a huge profit which can then pay for the sale of itself to Apple.

    If Apple does want to get into this business I can see how that would be a way to go, but I don't think it would cost a mere $60 B. That's just the market valuation, but even speculation of such a buyout would shoot that up excessively.
  • Reply 11 of 66
    stourquestourque Posts: 351member
    I don't think you can compare current sales levels of current Apple products to Tesla or any other car for that matter. Car sales will be measured in thousands, not millions. The price point for a car is much higher. Kind of the the Apple Watch Edition. I doubt they're selling millions of those.
  • Reply 12 of 66
    solipsismysolipsismy Posts: 5,099member
    stourque wrote: »
    I don't think you can compare current sales levels of current Apple products to Tesla or any other car for that matter. Car sales will be measured in thousands, not millions. The price point for a car is much higher. Kind of the the Apple Watch Edition. I doubt they're selling millions of those.

    That's why revenue, profits, and market share from sales are measured.
  • Reply 13 of 66
    Fascinating. Battery tech, mapping tech, liquidmetal, sapphire windshields.... But I don't believe BMW has the technology to produce car-sized solid blocks of aluminum for Apple to machine into a unibody auto.  :) Who does? Alcoa?

    Alcoa is busy supplying millions of tons of aluminum to Ford for the F-150.
  • Reply 14 of 66
    I doubt Apple would rebrand anther car like the i3.


     


    However, BMW makes a LOT of sense as a partner. What's interesting is when BMW employees go to training for a course called "Brand Recognition", they discuss other companies in different markets to see what your perception is of them and how they are marketed. Although BMW is a luxury brand, there's a lot of similarity between them and Apple and how they try to present themselves to customers. And Apple is often discussed at these sessions.


     


    An Apple Car sold through existing BMW dealers (because you will need a dealer network, even if it's just for repairs) would be a fantastic fit (much better than Smart sold through Mercedes as Smart is kind of a low-end vehicle).


     


    As for technology, I bet Apple is more interested in the CFRP that BMW is using (that they worked together with Boeing on) and how they can be applied to constructing vehicles than anything else.
  • Reply 15 of 66
    solipsismysolipsismy Posts: 5,099member
    sog35 wrote: »
    So what. Apple does not care what the media haters say. They will all be proven wrong in a couple years. Just like with the iPhone, iPad, and iPod.

    All Apple cares about is its customers that will be incredibly excited to buy an Apple Car.

    sog35 wrote: »
    Hogwash. You should know by now Apple dont give a flying sheet about what the media says.

    If they did they would have pulled the plug on AppleMusic and Watch by now. But Apple is smarted then the brain dead media writters who rely on clicks to pay there rent. These media clowns are all attention whores who have gone so low in the gutter that they will write lies about Apple just to get clicks. Well I hope they can live off there minimum wage while Apple and its happy customers laught at there face and enjoy their delicious tears.

    How the **** does Apple noting being intimated by the media equate to the media not calling it a market failure? Clearly you know the media labels Apple's efforts as market failures, as you later state, thus discounted your previous argument against my statement.
  • Reply 16 of 66
    palegolaspalegolas Posts: 1,250member
    It looks pretty nice as a city car. Do you guys think Apple is going compact with their car?

    Personally I hope Apple is not just making an electric car with snazzy features and Ive design, and that's it. They need to try and solve things. It'd be better if they created a commute taxi network with 8 passengers vans, with a constantly re routing hop-on-hop-off service. Request pickup via app. A closeby car with a free seat, and a route in the same direction will reroute and pick you up. The goal, to reduce traffic.
  • Reply 17 of 66
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    Doesn't this report say Apple was/is interested in the carbon fiber body tech?
  • Reply 18 of 66
    tbelltbell Posts: 3,146member
    solipsismy wrote: »
    If Apple does want to get into this business I can see how that would be a way to go, but I don't think it would cost a mere $60 B. That's just the market valuation, but even speculation of such a buyout would shoot that up excessively.



    True, but Apple only has to buy slightly over half. I doubt Apple would make this type of purchase though. It would be far cheaper and less complex for Apple to build from the ground up.

    The trouble with cars as Tesla is learning is most states have laws preventung direct manufacturer sales of vehicles to consumers. It makes sense for companies like GM and Ford because they relied on third party dealer investment to build the infrastructure to sell cars. It makes little sense for a new entry player like Tesla that doesn't need or want have third parties sell its cars for it.
  • Reply 19 of 66
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,272member
    "Apple reportedly eyed BMW's i3 electric car as basis for branded vehicle"

    ... Now had it been an i7 things might have been different ... ;)
  • Reply 20 of 66
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 1,400member
    We compare Apple's electric car initial projected revenue with today's iphone revenue. That is not fair comparasion. When first iphone came out, Steve Jobs was probably not able to sleep in night looking at initial projection vs actual sale trend. It took many years for iphone to get to where it is now. Same way, Apple builds car and that will ramp up to very large market share in near future. Plus, such car brings Apple's ecosystem with it.

    If Apple have to build gas/LPG/Hydrogen based car than it can possibly fail because that requires many decades of trial and error to refine many aspects of building a vehicle. But, for electric car, if Tesla can do it, others can as well and Apple can do even better. Remember, Tesla have to sell car to survive but Apple can pu money from other products revenue and raise the bar that Tesla or others may not be easily able to match.
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