About Those Apple Car Rumors

Rumors abound that Apple is going to make a car. Would it make sense for Apple to do this? Sure, they have the money. And the idea of an electric car sounds very “Apple-cool.” (Though electric cars merely move the pollution to power plants; they don’t reduce it.)

But when you think about it, it would be foolish for Apple to build a car. There are many reasons, such as the immense technical resources needed (they’d have to build huge plants), and the amount of time it would take to ramp up production. If they were planning to build a car, it would be years away.

Former Apple executive Jean-Louis Gassée writes about the Apple car rumors, and points out several reasons why they doesn’t add up. He highlights the low profit margins in the automobile industry (around 4% for Ford), and the fact that “there is no Moore’s Law for cars.” In other words, cars don’t scale, and they don’t increase in performance and lower in price over time.

But there’s also all the after-sales service issues.

“Apple’s life today is relatively simple. It sells small devices that are easily transported back to the point of sale for service if needed. No brake lines to flush, no heavy and expensive batteries and cooling systems, no overseeing the installation and maintenance of home and public chargers. And consider the trouble Tesla faces with entrenched auto dealers who oppose Tesla selling cars directly in some states. Apple doesn’t need these headaches.”

Apple is certainly working on improving their CarPlay system; that’s probably what that Apple car seen in the wild is for, and why they’ve hired designers from the automobile industry. But it makes no sense for Apple to make a car; it’s too far from their current product line, and couldn’t be added on to its existing sales and service networks.

As Gassée concludes:

“The fantastic Apple Car is a fantasy.”