Motor Trend spotlights 'Apple Car' development in June cover story

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in Future Apple Hardware
For its latest June issue, long-running automotive serial Motor Trend threw a spotlight on rumors and speculation surrounding Apple's shadowy "Project Titan." To go along with its print coverage, which includes a well-studied "Apple Car" concept rendering, the magazine invited a panel of experts to discuss the broader implications of Apple's efforts, and AppleInsider was there.



Motor Trend's report, penned by testing director Kim Reynolds, is in essence a think piece addressing the "what ifs" of Apple's automotive ambitions. In particular, the magazine focuses not only on how Apple could disrupt major players in the deeply entrenched heavy industry, but what the company should bring to the space.

Drawing on a variety of sources, including AppleInsider's exclusive coverage, the magazine rehashes the latest Apple Car rumors, speculation and scuttlebutt. Reynolds also asked industry insiders like former GM execs Larry Burns and Chris Borroni-Bird to weigh in on an Apple branded entry.

Burns, former GM vice president of research and development and head of strategic planning, believes Apple will likely push the envelope when it comes to design, not surprising considering the company's history. More interesting are thoughts on the inevitable rise of autonomous vehicles. Burns suggests Apple, or some other Silicon Valley tech firm, might one day develop a car capable of chauffeuring passengers in a ride sharing setup, while at the same time remaining attractive as a personal use vehicle.




Borroni-Bird, current Qualcomm VP of strategic development and former GM director of advanced technology vehicle concepts, elaborated on vehicle autonomy, saying software will likely be an increasingly important consideration for carmakers. The shift might also necessitate a rethink in the way we purchase cars.

In the future, cybersecurity threats and hardware obsolescence might prompt consumers to opt for auto leases rather than outright ownership, Borroni-Bird said. Just as smartphone hardware quickly becomes obsolete, so too will the underlying tech rolled out in future cars.

Combining what little is known about Apple Car with input from The ArtCenter College of Design, Motor Trend took a stab at rendering an aspirational Apple Car concept. The resulting mockup, inked by Garrett DeBry, is a minimalist mono-space shell riding on an electric drive chassis, a fitting representation of a personally owned vehicle with shared use ambitions.

Complementing the -- intentionally -- polarizing exterior is an interior that speaks to Apple's endless quest for the ultimate user experience. The star of the show is an augmented reality infotainment system powered that uses laser projection to overlay virtual display elements on both the dashboard and windshield. Siri integration not only handles navigation, but makes pitstop suggestions based on a driver's habits and schedule.

For example, Siri might tap into a user's Health app to recommend a healthy lunch, later highlighting the restaurant on the car's augmented reality windshield in real time.

The story describes use cases and overarching design themes in more detail, but the main thrust is Apple Car should be a self-sufficient standalone device that offers a fresh driving -- and riding -- experience.

As mentioned above, Motor Trend recently held a roundtable to discuss the feasibility of its concept. Along with Editor-in-Chief Ed Loh, who moderated the panel, the six-member panel included Reynolds, DeBry and Tim Huntzinger, an ArtCenter professor of graduate transportation systems who took part in the design process. CNET Roadshow head Tim Stevens and AppleInsider's Mikey Campbell offered commentary on the tech angle.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 51
    williamhwilliamh Posts: 677member
    The Apple car will have to be a lot thinner.  
    wlymfrantisekafrodri
  • Reply 2 of 51
    williamh said:
    The Apple car will have to be a lot thinner.  
    And prettier.
    cwingrav
  • Reply 3 of 51
    nousernouser Posts: 65member
    AppleCar...  The journey is the reward.
    frantisek
  • Reply 4 of 51
    If I were Apple's legal, I'd consider suing for defamation. This is horribly ugly and nonfunctional. That Apple symbol should not go on something like this... especially since other media outlets will probably pick it up and people will think that Apple is actually making something like this.
    patchythepiratetallest skil
  • Reply 5 of 51
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,145moderator
    Antenna bands?  Really Motor Trend?
    tallest skilcornchip
  • Reply 6 of 51
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,099member
    It just shows you how backwards Motor Trend actually is. If you pay them enough money they'll make your car "Car of the Year" without even knowing if it exists!

    "Combining what little is known about Apple Car with input from The ArtCenter College of Design, Motor Trend took a stab at rendering an aspirational Apple Car concept. The resulting mockup, inked by Garrett DeBry, is a minimalist mono-space shell riding on an electric drive chassis, a fitting representation of a personally owned vehicle with shared use ambitions." I'd also flunk Garrett because he shows no imagination or understanding of what Apple is all about. There's no way Apple would simply drop an ugly shell on top of a chassis, it would all be one tightly integrated mechanism. I actually wanted to go to this school but couldn't afford it. Looking at their website, I'd rather go with this design instead of the one shown. If we're going to be reporting on rumors, this makes for a better rumor and a much better design.


    patchythepirate
  • Reply 7 of 51
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,145moderator
    Watched the first three minutes.  These guys actually take themselves seriously.  I have a high school education and zero experience in car design.  And I'm not being paid to sit around thinking about this stuff, nor have I spent much time thinking about it, which tells you it doesn't take much effort and thought to arrive at a more interesting future than all the resources Motor Trend threw at it.  Here is my vision, such as it is...

    Apple might be looking to disrupt the nascent car-as-a-service segment, which has the potential to become a very large slice of the future of personal transportation. This would imply Apple would build functional vehicles with stylish but durable interiors, keeping costs down. The cars would represent a recurring revenue service rather than a one-time sale, and the market is represented by every dense population center around the world. Apple needs only create a few centralized charging depots at strategic locations near a population center, then unleash a swarm of Apple cars to serve that geographic area. Tight integration with an iPhone and Watch app would allow users to request a car, indicating their destination, either for immediate pickup or future pickup, calculated to ensure arrival at a specified time. Toss in regularly scheduled pickups, like taking the kids to school daily, and Apple could optimize the utilization, driving revenues and profits.  The possibilities to create a seemless car service are coming into focus, as is the technology. This is where I think Apple is going.

    First generation vehicles, as they age, could be shifted to overseas markets, replaced in premium markets with the latest models.  This would extend the usable life of each vehicle, maximizing revenues.  Also, swarms (fleets) dedicated to specific dense population centers would imply that Apple could concentrate its mapping initiatives to just those areas where it intends to roll out its self-driving service, and that means they could do a very good job mapping each area, which would assist the cars' self-driving systems and help to optimize routing of the cars, making the whole fleet more efficient and maximizing utilization.

    am8449patchythepiratemanfred zorncornchip
  • Reply 8 of 51
    JinTechJinTech Posts: 400member
    cwingrav said:
    If I were Apple's legal, I'd consider suing for defamation. This is horribly ugly and nonfunctional. That Apple symbol should not go on something like this... especially since other media outlets will probably pick it up and people will think that Apple is actually making something like this.
    Are you also voting for Trump? This is a pure speculation piece and a matter of opinion based on what is known and what is available. Chill out dude. It gives one something to get excited about that does not spend all day reading rumor sites. 
    crowley
  • Reply 9 of 51
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 4,212member
    Yesterday my Twitter feed was full of techies freaking out about this and omg I will never buy an Apple car if it looks like that and Apple shouldn't be doing this because car design is so subjective and polarizing blah blah. I can't believe that people actually thought these sketches were actual Apple designs. Sigh.
  • Reply 10 of 51
    williamh said:
    The Apple car will have to be a lot thinner.  

    You're holding it wrong!

    radarthekat
  • Reply 11 of 51
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,406member
    cwingrav said:
    If I were Apple's legal, I'd consider suing for defamation. This is horribly ugly and nonfunctional. That Apple symbol should not go on something like this... especially since other media outlets will probably pick it up and people will think that Apple is actually making something like this.
    My thought exactly.  I can guarantee you a lot of people will think this is the new Apple car.  If it's on the internet it must be true after all!  /s
    cwingrav
  • Reply 12 of 51
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 4,212member
    JinTech said:
    cwingrav said:
    If I were Apple's legal, I'd consider suing for defamation. This is horribly ugly and nonfunctional. That Apple symbol should not go on something like this... especially since other media outlets will probably pick it up and people will think that Apple is actually making something like this.
    Are you also voting for Trump? This is a pure speculation piece and a matter of opinion based on what is known and what is available. Chill out dude. It gives one something to get excited about that does not spend all day reading rumor sites. 
    Not really. And yes this image will make its way all over the web, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc. and soon enough you'll have people believing this is what the Apple car will look like. Nothing Apple can do about it but it doesn't make Motor Trend look good that's for sure. 
  • Reply 13 of 51
    Why in the f*ck is it gold? I'm not an automobile expert reviewer but everyone I know with a gold car, is 75+ or can't afford a better color.
    cornchip
  • Reply 14 of 51

    With apologies to Gelett Burgess:

    I never saw an Apple Car,
    I never hope to see one;
    But I can tell you, har-har-har,
    I'd rather see than be one.

    edited April 2016
  • Reply 15 of 51
    When discussing whether the car should be "fun," one of the panelists pointed out that typing and scrolling on an iPhone isn't fun, so the car would be more about the experience than being a fun car to drive. The trouble with that argument is that using a phone has never been fun, but using an iPhone is more fun than using a landline telephone from just a decade ago. On the other hand, driving a luxury car, depending on the manufacturer, has always been a fun experience, so Apple's foray into this arena can't forgo the driving experience just to push the idea of riding in an iPad with wheels.

    Plus, look at that thing. Ugh. The model on the desk is pretty much the exact opposite of what would come out of Apple's design studios. When someone looks at an iPhone or a Macbook, they get the idea that it was made by artisans and not just engineers. Everything about an Apple product screams "attention to detail" and—to be blunt—"sex appeal." Everything about the design in this video says, "boring." Jony Ive would rather be dead than put his name on something like this.

    As far as pricing, Apple has made billions of dollars by selling products with astronomical profits to people who are willing to spend more for good design. If Apple were to build the car depicted here, they couldn't charge more than $40,000, and likely far less if it were destined to be a "shared" experience. (Would you want to share a car you've paid $80K for?) Apple would more likely design something exciting to look at and charge much more for it, selling to those people with the money to afford a four-wheeled equivalent of a Mac Pro. Tesla is proving that good design need not cost a fortune, but Tesla is trying to bring electric cars to the masses; Apple would be happy as the Mercedes of electric cars while Tesla becomes the Honda.
    edited April 2016
  • Reply 16 of 51
    Why in the f*ck is it gold? I'm not an automobile expert reviewer but everyone I know with a gold car, is 75+ or can't afford a better color.
    Exactly right. I sold cars for a short time and one customer who was in her 60s decided not to buy a gold car because she felt it made her look like an old woman. People who want to be perceived as youthful and fun do not drive gold cars.
    edited April 2016 cornchip
  • Reply 17 of 51
    kkerstkkerst Posts: 330member
    The Aztek threw up an iPhone.
    radarthekatcornchip
  • Reply 18 of 51
    am8449am8449 Posts: 343member
    The whole premise of this Motor Trend video is bonkers.

    They're critiquing their own speculation of what an Apple Car might be like. It has nearly nothing to do with Apple except maybe as clickbait. It might as well have been promoted as what Motor Trend thinks the car of the future could be.
    cornchip
  • Reply 19 of 51

    Also, swarms (fleets) dedicated to specific dense population centers would imply that Apple could concentrate its mapping initiatives to just those areas where it intends to roll out its self-driving service, and that means they could do a very good job mapping each area, which would assist the cars' self-driving systems and help to optimize routing of the cars, making the whole fleet more efficient and maximizing utilization.

    And the cars could map while they are driving about, getting better and better, almost real-time maps so that Apple cars wouldn't confuse a sandbag in the gutter as an obstacle and crash -http://www.engadget.com/2016/02/29/google-self-driving-car-accident/
    radarthekat
  • Reply 20 of 51
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member
    Reminds me of a loaf of bread.

    Elsewhere I was reading something by a proud new Nissan Leaf owner who had traveled from Ireland to the UK to buy his new pride and joy and who then drove it back to Ireland.  It rather highlighted how electric cars are not very practical beyond short commutes.  Apart from having to go to some effort to plan his route around the availability of charging points, on a 344 mile journey he spent 2:49 waiting for the thing to charge with seven charging stops.  I did the same sort of thing some years ago, except I bought a petrol engined vehicle and stopped once for about 7 minutes to fill it up since it was near empty when I got it.

    I like the idea of electric vehicles, I just don't think the energy storage problem has been cracked enough to make them practical.
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