Apple's 'Project Titan' car faces manufacturing roadblocks, could necessitate partnership

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Comments

  • Reply 21 of 126
    Nice, but a tad over-styled. Utterly lacks subtlety. And, I think it'll end up costing $200,000.

    It's pretty wild, even for a Porsche.
  • Reply 22 of 126
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by konqerror View Post

     



    Right, so Apple won't use any of the tooling and jigs and conveyor systems that factories need. Plus being in California, they just ignore the need for air pollution permits for something as simple as using glue. (This is the state that regulates emissions from hair gel) They can shake things up by using dollar a day Chinese labor to carry and assemble the car by hand.


     

    Wah.

     

    Have you considered the possibility that Apple outsource vehicle component assembly so by the time it gets to them they are in essence assembling a relatively small amount of sections?

     

    No guarantee they will assemble in California, and no guarantee they will assemble in China. But, I am confident that IF they did design and build a car (not fully confident that they are) then they will do so differently than others.

     

    I used to work for an automotive supplier. They had tried multiple attempts to build a 'cockpit' concept where they would build the internal guts of the vehicle and the manufacturer would simply plop it in the car, but it never worked out. I can see Apple doing this rather easily, using their size and strength to force suppliers to build to their rigid specs, then basically assemble it in one place quickly and easily. I would expect Apple to basically have an Apple Car that has very few options, thus reducing variation in hardware and design. Everything will be software controlled, and they are not limited to archaic design limitations like current manufacturers (i.e. need for a steering wheel when the car is electronically steered, pedals for accelerating/braking when it is electronically controlled, etc.). It would be revolutionary in my opinion - different way of steering, accelerating, braking, etc. Less buttons, switches, knobs, wiring. iPhone/iPad controlled for basic features, with Siri interaction. No keys - car only operates with specific iPhones or iPads. Insert iPad and all of your display features are there - Without the iPad there would be no dash - so eliminate the complex instrument panels, incredible amounts of wiring needed (have you recently pulled a dash out? OMG). No steering wheel/column. No foot pedals. No built-in radio/navigation (all in iPhone/iPad). Possibilities are endless. All you need is the car body, electric drive train, batteries, airbags, seat belts, and Bluetooth-controlled motors/switches/speakers for driver functions. I mean, wow. Securely connect your iPhone and iPad to the car and you have instantaneous connection to windows, door locks, driving, steering, lights, music, and navigation. Very little wiring anymore. OK, hurdles to keep hackers and the like out, but Apple encryption and Touch ID can help there. But picture a basic vehicle hardware but completely wirelessly controlled via iPhone/iPad. If anyone can do it, it's Apple!! But again, I'm not so sure they are going to do it.

  • Reply 23 of 126

    There has actually been a lot of innovation and changes happening in automotive assembly the last few years.  BMW with the i3, VW has it's MLB and MQB strategies that remove complexity from the assembly chain, Toyota (as someone mentioned) has a streamlined method.  All are different from old school assembly chains and benefit from robotics and just in time practices.

     

    It just might be the right time for Apple to jump in since the industry is already changing.  Besides when you start from scratch, you have no baggage or internal management resistance to deal with.

  • Reply 24 of 126
    ronmg wrote: »
    Basic car startup assembly plant cost is (in your mind) an archaic number based on how existing car manufacturers do things. Totally inefficient in my opinion. If Apple does move this direction (still nothing confirmed by Apple) then they will totally change the way cars are built. AND, how does anyone know that Apple doesn't have something in prototype yet?

    No way Apple will all of a sudden change the way cars are made. They might make a great car but not change the way they are made.
    This is why I love this site. So wonderful to be able to construct one's own reality (with a group of like-minded people) and live in it. 2020, he we come! :D

    What gave Tesla a head start was their ability to buy the mothballed NUMMI factory in California for a song. I don't think there are any more like that available. Starting from scratch in this business won't be easy, especially as Apple has not had a great deal of direct manufacturing experience in the past decade (everything has been outsourced to the Foxconns of the world). Yes, they will most definitely need a partnership.

    May I suggest Jaguar/Land Rover as Apple's potential partner? The company today is not what people think it is. The styling, quality, engineering, and marketing are quite remarkable compared to the JLR of yore. (In fact, I am pretty much moving in the direction of a 2016 XF as my next car, although there is some hesitancy because I am not sure if it has CarPlay yet). Moreover, given its relatively small size (~450,000 cars), Apple will perhaps find a more willing and flexible partner in JLR.

    I agree about Jaguar. They are getting back to what they once were.
    Nice, but a tad over-styled. Utterly lacks subtlety. And, I think it'll end up costing $200,000.

    It's a concept. It won't look exactly like this. Concepts never do.
    It's pretty wild, even for a Porsche.

    Concepts look different than production cars.
  • Reply 25 of 126
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post





    Hubba-hubba!



    http://www.autoblog.com/2015/09/14/porsche-mission-e-concept-tesla-model-s-competitor/



    The thing that still hurts with electrics is the range and the charging time. A person in a rush won't want to spend 15 minutes recharging.

    All leccy is pie in the sky until we get battery replacement centres all over the place. Sort of Filling stations for leccy cars.

    I think the way to go for the near term is to have some all leccy cars for runabouts around town and Hybrids with bigger batteries and say a 1ltr engine that works to recharge the batteries. This gives the sort of range that people need.

    Then when battery tech improves and we can have standard batteries that we exchange just like filling up with unleaded we can ditch the engine alltogether.

  • Reply 26 of 126
    I'm surprised the article does not mention the relevant ongoing talks between Apple and GoMentum autonomous car test drive large facility, just 30 mins NorthEast of San Francisco, described also by appleinsider on 14 Aug, and that Apple Senior Vice President Eddy Cue is Board Member at Ferrari supercars maker.
  • Reply 27 of 126
    ronmg wrote: »
    Wah.

    Have you considered the possibility that Apple outsource vehicle component assembly so by the time it gets to them they are in essence assembling a relatively small amount of sections?

    No guarantee they will assemble in California, and no guarantee they will assemble in China. But, I am confident that IF they did design and build a car (not fully confident that they are) then they will do so differently than others.

    I used to work for an automotive supplier. They had tried multiple attempts to build a 'cockpit' concept where they would build the internal guts of the vehicle and the manufacturer would simply plop it in the car, but it never worked out. I can see Apple doing this rather easily, using their size and strength to force suppliers to build to their rigid specs, then basically assemble it in one place quickly and easily. I would expect Apple to basically have an Apple Car that has very few options, thus reducing variation in hardware and design. Everything will be software controlled, and they are not limited to archaic design limitations like current manufacturers (i.e. need for a steering wheel when the car is electronically steered, pedals for accelerating/braking when it is electronically controlled, etc.). It would be revolutionary in my opinion - different way of steering, accelerating, braking, etc. Less buttons, switches, knobs, wiring. iPhone/iPad controlled for basic features, with Siri interaction. No keys - car only operates with specific iPhones or iPads. Insert iPad and all of your display features are there - Without the iPad there would be no dash - so eliminate the complex instrument panels, incredible amounts of wiring needed (have you recently pulled a dash out? OMG). No steering wheel/column. No foot pedals. No built-in radio/navigation (all in iPhone/iPad). Possibilities are endless. All you need is the car body, electric drive train, batteries, airbags, seat belts, and Bluetooth-controlled motors/switches/speakers for driver functions. I mean, wow. Securely connect your iPhone and iPad to the car and you have instantaneous connection to windows, door locks, driving, steering, lights, music, and navigation. Very little wiring anymore. OK, hurdles to keep hackers and the like out, but Apple encryption and Touch ID can help there. But picture a basic vehicle hardware but completely wirelessly controlled via iPhone/iPad. If anyone can do it, it's Apple!! But again, I'm not so sure they are going to do it.

    I'm more convinced now than ever before, mainly because of their many recent hires from specific functional areas in automotive design and manufacturing.

    Might be fun if Apple had a car with no clearly defined front or rear and the view of traffic would be unimpeded by struts if thin and light monitors replaced glass, so parking, pulling out into traffic or driving would all be safe and easy.
  • Reply 28 of 126
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by EricTheHalfBee View Post

     

     

    I don't think Apple, as good as they are, will totally redefine how cars are made. Modern assembly lines for vehicles are probably quite similar to how Tim Cook manages supply chains for components. More likely they'll just use TPS (Toyota Production System) which is a highly refined just-in-time manufacturing process. An interesting fact is that the CEO of Hyundai did his thesis on the TPS. Later he adopted those methods at Hyundai. And look at Hyundai cars today vs their early years. Turned that company completely around.

     

    I think what Apple will bring to cars is not so much a new way to build them, but a new way to interact with them and use them. Apple is obsessed with user experience, after all, and there's a LOT of room for improvement for that in automotive. That and they'll bring some amazing style I bet.

     

     

    Tesla will need to do something. Nothing they have in their cars is proprietary and none of their tech is new. Any car company could build a Model S in short order if they wanted. They're happy right now to let Tesla spend money getting consumers used to the idea of electric vehicles and when the market (and battery technology) is ripe they'll jump in. Tesla will have nothing to separate them from the rest, except for being the first. And Tesla doesn't have nearly as much experience in the other 75% of the vehicle (that's not the powertrain) as other manufacturers.


     

    Eric,

     

    Good points. Reference my recent post as to my ideas on how Apple would revolutionize the car. I see Apple assembling a lot fewer components than a standard vehicle manufacturer does, as the Apple Car would have a lot less needed than a standard car. No steering wheel, no foot pedals, no radio, no navigation system, no instrument panel/switches/knobs with associated wiring nightmare. Just a body (with bluetooth controlled motors and switches as needed), electric drive train, seats, and dashboard. All components come with integrated airbags as needed (doors, dash, roof panel), seat belts come integrated with seats. Doors come integrated with bluetooth motors to lock/unlock doors, open/close windows, move mirrors, etc. Seats come integrated with bluetooth motors to adjust seat. Each car comes with iPad Pro to control everything. Minimal wiring in car - probably for safety and other redundant/backup systems in case of a system failure.

  • Reply 29 of 126
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SirLance99 View Post





    No way Apple will all of a sudden change the way cars are made. They might make a great car but not change the way they are made.

    I agree about Jaguar. They are getting back to what they once were.

    It's a concept. It won't look exactly like this. Concepts never do.

    Concepts look different than production cars.



    SirLance, we are all entitled to our opinions, but I think you are wrong - they are exploring building cars SPECIFICALLY because they CAN change the way they are made. But you are not the first to underestimate Apple, and you certainly won't be the last!!

     

    :-)

  • Reply 30 of 126
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by 1983 View Post



    I've just seen the future of the premium electric automobile, and it's called the Porsche Mission E electric saloon! Makes the Tesla S look like a has been and BMW's i3 runabout archaic! Apple have got a battle on their hands when it comes to this industry. I hope they're up to it. Oh and this new Porsche or something very similar to it, is expected to go into production before 2020!

     

    Considering the whoop-dee-doo moving part of the future car is the least interesting part of it, and the other part control and experience is the one where Porsche is beat to hell by Apple, I'm not even sure what your talking.

     

    You do realize doesn't want to produce yet another zippy car hey!

  • Reply 31 of 126
    ronmg wrote: »

    SirLance, we are all entitled to our opinions, but I think you are wrong - they are exploring building cars SPECIFICALLY because they CAN change the way they are made. But you are not the first to underestimate Apple, and you certainly won't be the last!!

    :-)

    Imagine a car body made of a single block of milled metal. ;^)
  • Reply 32 of 126
    We have two BMW i3s and the way the car is constructed is just amazing.

    There was a teardown by Munro and Associates and a webcast over the summer where they discussed some of their findings. In the interview they also discussed touring the BMW factory and that development for a CFRP factory costs 1/3 the price of a normal assembly line.

    http://www.automotiveworld.com/events/webinar-bmw-i3-tear-uncovering-secrets/
  • Reply 33 of 126
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by eightzero View Post

     

    Concur. I believe Apple feels that it has something to contribute to this large consumer market, but like you, I have a gut feeling a whole car isn't their current focus. Even if a whole car was under consideration, it would be a huge departure from prior behavior for them to produce anything other than an upper-high end product, certainly not under the $100k mark.


     

    The Iphone corresponds more to the 40K and up car. But, that "car" would not be the same as the one we have now, so cost comparisons are kind of idiotic.

  • Reply 34 of 126
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 24,087member
    An interesting fact is that the CEO of Hyundai did his thesis on the TPS. Later he adopted those methods at Hyundai. And look at Hyundai cars today vs their early years. Turned that company completely around.
    You must be referring to John Krafcik? He's recently taken a new leadership position in the automotive field, but no longer employed with Hyundai. He made an interesting move.
  • Reply 35 of 126
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

     
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post



    Hubba-hubba!



    http://www.autoblog.com/2015/09/14/porsche-mission-e-concept-tesla-model-s-competitor/



    The thing that still hurts with electrics is the range and the charging time. A person in a rush won't want to spend 15 minutes recharging.

    Nice, but a tad over-styled. Utterly lacks subtlety. And, I think it'll end up costing $200,000.


    "The Mission E's design looks like a futuristic Panamera as filtered through the style of the 918 and a next-gen Star Wars Stormtrooper helmet."  <img class=" src="http://forums-files.appleinsider.com/images/smilies//lol.gif" />

  • Reply 36 of 126
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by RonMG View Post

     

     

    Basic car startup assembly plant cost is (in your mind) an archaic number based on how existing car manufacturers do things. Totally inefficient in my opinion. If Apple does move this direction (still nothing confirmed by Apple) then they will totally change the way cars are built. AND, how does anyone know that Apple doesn't have something in prototype yet?


    Have you been to an auto plant recently? In now way shape or form are they inefficient. Just look at Ford, they just spend over $2 billion to retool the factory in Dearborn for the new aluminum body F-150. Apple will have to spend a fortune to turn that land into an auto plant. Apple is a great company, but no way they change the way cars are built. 

  • Reply 37 of 126
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 24,087member
    ronmg wrote: »

    SirLance, we are all entitled to our opinions, but I think you are wrong - they are exploring building cars SPECIFICALLY because they CAN change the way they are made. But you are not the first to underestimate Apple, and you certainly won't be the last!!

    :-)
    I pretty much agree. With as much money as Apple has at its disposal they can disrupt nearly any industry they wish. If not for various and sundry legal restrictions they have enough power and money to pretty much run the world of tech, call all the shots. IMO they carry more clout than Exxon did in the 80's.

    If they want to build a car that will destroy the old-line manufacturers they probably can.
  • Reply 38 of 126
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member

    I don't think Apple are going to get into the car manufacturing business anymore than they are in the phone manufacturing business.  I don't even think they are going to sell any cars, I think they aim to charge for the use of them.

     

    I surmise they are taking on Uber more than Tesla.  You want to go somewhere, you just pull up an app and select the destination and time you would like to arrive and are then advised of your collection time when a driverless Apple car will pull up, possibly with one or two other passengers already on board, and then deliver you to your destination.

     

    That is the only way I can see Apple making the sort of margins they usually go for.

     

    This would allow the cars to be very expensive to build in carbon fiber and such to get the weight extremely low so as to maximise range.  Apple wouldn't have to have nearly as many built for them as they would if they were selling them.

     

    I think the five year time frame mentioned in this article is very ambitious and unlikely unless they have already matched and surpassed Google's efforts in autonomous cars, which I rather doubt.

  • Reply 39 of 126
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by cnocbui View Post

     

    I don't think Apple are going to get into the car manufacturing business anymore than they are in the phone manufacturing business.  I don't even think they are going to sell any cars, I think they aim to charge for the use of them.

     

    I surmise they are taking on Uber more than Tesla.  You want to go somewhere, you just pull up an app and select the destination and time you would like to arrive and are then advised of your collection time when a driverless Apple car will pull up, possibly with one or two other passengers already on board, and then deliver you to your destination.

     

    That is the only way I can see Apple making the sort of margins they usually go for.

     

    This would allow the cars to be very expensive to build in carbon fiber and such to get the weight extremely low so as to maximise range.  Apple wouldn't have to have nearly as many built for them as they would if they were selling them.


    Apple's margins on software are close to zero -- after all, they give it away. The company makes almost all of its money on hardware. So I have no clue what you're getting at.

  • Reply 40 of 126
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post





    You must be referring to John Krafcik? He's recently taken a new leadership position in the automotive field, but no longer employed with Hyundai. He made an interesting move.



    Ha ha!  :smokey:

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