What Sort Of Car Would Apple Make?

For several years, the tech world has swirled with rumors of an Apple
Car, and in particular an Apple self-driving car. Indeed, a moderate amount leaked out about Apple’s “Project Titan” self-driving project and the troubles it had, and about how things have recently re-formed, and Apple is now serious about making not just the self-driving software stack, but a full on car. There’s good reason for that — Apple may be the world’s most valuable company with its strong position in phones and computers, but the ground transportation industry is bigger, and anybody who dominates it can become far grander — as Tesla’s
valuation suggests.

There are a variety of summaries of leaks and rumors about an Apple car, most recently including rumors that they would partner with Hyundai/Kia for an electric power train. When the rumors were denied, serious amounts of value was lost in the market.

We don’t really know much of anything about Apple’s plans, though we can get glimpses from some of the hires, like Dan Dodge, a classmate of mine at the University of Waterloo who built a full self-driving stack that needed low computing power while working in the QNX division (which he co-founded) at Blackberry. Whatever, the details, though, here are some patterns from Apple’s history that may reveal something:

It will be premium

Apple never makes the entry level product in a space. They always want to make something high end, and charge a premium price. They’re not afraid to charge a price people think is shockingly high for consumers — and often get major sales at that level. The car industry ranges from clunky starter cars to multimillion dollar supercars, but it definitely has a very robust set of levels, many of which are quite high end. If sold as a retail car, it might be priced like a BMW or Lexus, but will greatly outdo what other players do at that price point.

That’s if it’s sold to consumers. For many companies, the obvious play is not to sell cars, but to sell rides. Apple has generally not been that sort of company. It wants to sell you hardware. While there will…