Tesla’s history shows why the ‘Apple Car’ would wreck Apple

  • In recent weeks, speculation about Apple’s plans to develop a car has heated up.
  • “Project Titan” has resurfaced at a time when Tesla’s stock has surged, which has made it the most valuable car company.
  • The project has endured a very up-and-down history, and Tesla’s history of volatility hardly makes it an inspiring example to follow.
  • If Apple emulates Tesla, one of the best companies in the world could wreck its transportation ambitions.
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In case you missed it, the “Apple Car” is back. In the past few weeks, both Reuters and Bloomberg have reported that something is up with what Apple is calling “Project Titan” after years of starts and stops. There have even been confusing statements about a possible collaboration with Hyundai.

I don’t think Apple seriously wants to get into the auto business — in fact, I think Apple would rather sell Project Titan and be done with it forever — but plenty of tech and finance folks seem to think the time is right for Apple to go mobile.

As in, four-wheels mobile.

No one who’s enthusiastic about a revived Project Titan is really thinking much about the traditional auto industry. Because, of course, the traditional auto industry has been so thoroughly disrupted and invalidated over the past decade that it sold a mere 84 million vehicles since 2015 in the US alone.

Tesla has sold some of those cars: about 1.2 million worldwide. As far as the US goes, that’s less than 1% of the total since 2015. That’s not a disruption — it’s a rounding error.

But there is a shift underway in the auto industry, toward electrification. It’s driven by a complicated cluster of factors, including increasingly stringent regulations in Europe, a growing China market, and the logical desire of automakers to get consumers to swap their old gas-powered vehicles for new electric ones.

Tesla gets all the attention, but the Apple Car is forever news

In this context, Tesla is getting all the attention because the company is run by an entertaining CEO in Elon Musk, has survived several near-death experiences, has developed an impressive level of customer loyalty, and has transformed easy…