Tesla CEO, Elon Musk was right; Apple just cannot pull off a car

While Tesla and Elon Musk have been designing and building electric vehicles for some time now, the 'electric' theme at the Paris Motor Show could have been the result of Apple.

Sheldon Pinto October 18, 2016 10:18:50 IST
Tesla CEO, Elon Musk was right; Apple just cannot pull off a car

If you quickly glance through the events that took place at the recent Paris Motor Show, it may have appeared to many that Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen and many other European (and Japanese) automakers have taken it up as a challenge and go electric first, hinting at autonomous or self-driving cars in the near future.

It may have also appeared to many that this did indeed look like Europe's answer to Tesla and other American auto companies that have been jumping onto the electric car bandwagon. It looked like the future was electric and it sure looked interesting thanks to the stunning designs that were showcased by Renault and the lot.

But a little down the line we heard about something else. Mercedes-Benz' parent company, Daimler announced that it was planning to cut its annual research and development budget by $2.2 billion. The company is hoping to restrict its R&D spending from $15.4 billion this year to $13.2 billion for the coming year. Daimler in short was making up for the big spends it used to announce its new EQ brand. In short, it does appear too confident.

It's over... for now

Now we hear about Apple. While Tesla and Elon Musk have been designing and building electric vehicles (with some self-driving capabilities) for some time now, the theme at the Paris Motor Show could have been the result of Apple. There have been many rumours in the past as to how Apple stole engineers from Tesla (and vice versa) and even a news bit about how it had gathered some of the best of the industry to think "freely" about its upcoming car tagged 'Project Titan'.

Just yesterday, we heard from Bloomberg that Apple has "drastically scaled back its automotive ambitions, leading to hundreds of job cuts and a new direction that, for now, no longer includes building its own car" according to people familiar with the project.

Bloomberg in its report also mentioned that "hundreds of members of the car team, which comprises about 1,000 people, have been reassigned, let go, or have left of their own volition in recent months," which is a bit of shocker. It is said that whoever is left behind from the car team, will now focus on building an autonomous driving system. One that will let Apple outsource its software bits to carmarkers instead.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk was right Apple just cannot pull off a car

A portrait of Apple's co-founder Steve Jobs is seen on a BMW car in Tokyo's Ginza shopping district. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

I am no Elon Musk fan, but I do remember the Tesla CEO speaking out about the Cupertino giant to German publication Handelsblatt saying, "...It's good that Apple is moving and investing in this direction," said Musk "But cars are very complex compared to phones or smartwatches. You can't just go to a supplier like Foxconn and say: build me a car." Back then, it may have sounded like he was ranting about a competitor, but the CEO was least bothered about Apple.

Tesla: the 'Apple' of the auto industry?

This is because as of today, Tesla is the Apple of the automotive industry. Tesla already has an electric car when they have yet to go mainstream. Tesla has the brand presence that Apple has, and yet it does innovate in more ways than one. It's co-founder with SpaceX is already making plans for Mars. Frankly speaking, Apple is losing its cool by limiting itself to just the iPhone. Think electric cars and it's a Tesla that comes to mind instead of the Nissan Leaf.

Apple had that chance a long time ago when it went about searching for its next hero product. That time seems to have passed and Tim Cook still seems to be betting on the iPhone and Augmented Reality (AR) for the near future (which is not a good thing).

Apple is good at two things, marketing and building well-machined gadgets. Building a car seems like rather big leap... for now. Which is why we have CarPlay that could steer the way for an autonomous driving system instead.

I'm not saying that Apple should not build a car, but right now everything points to the fact that it "can not".

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