The code name of the project for Apple’s electric car is Titan, and it couldn’t be more appropriate: however you put it, the hypothesis of an EV conceived and produced by the Cupertino house refers to a titanic undertaking both for the enormous technological and industrial effort required, both for the expectations that such a product is able to generate in the public. We have been talking about the Titan project for seven years now, during which rumors and speculations have been chasing each other (Apple does not let anything leak out) on how a car with an apple could be, driven for example by a formidable purchasing campaign conducted by Cupertino among engineers. and manager of the automotive sector (with particular interest in autonomous driving).
The freshest rumors even date back to February and March of this year, when the Korean press reported the news (later denied by those directly concerned) that the Korean manufacturer Hyundai was close to closing a 3 billion euro agreement with Apple to build the first Apple Car by 2024-25 (in the subsidiary’s factories Kia). But how could and should the electric car with Apple be? Although it is practically impossible to penetrate the rubber wall of the Cupertino company’s secrecy, it is still possible to speculate: for example with respect to how the so-called “Apple culture” could shape an electric vehicle potentially capable of influencing the future of entire automotive sector.
The French technologist Frederic Filloux, editor of The Monday Note, tried it (on Medium), which in his brilliant reflection starts by identifying and comparing two visions and two ways of understanding automobile production in the automotive industry: on the one hand there is the German “recipe”, followed by manufacturers such as Mercedes- Benz, BMW or Audi, where obsessive attention to detail dominates, total attention to the quality of each piece, to the way it is assembled, and which for this very reason requires extremely long times for the design of each new vehicle, slows down the ‘innovation, requires very long road tests for millions of kilometers before a car can be launched on the market, in the name of reliability, if not total, in any case very high. On the other hand, there is the opposite model of Tesla, where two things above all count: the revolutionary driving experience driven by technological innovation, and the speed with which this innovation runs forward, a hardware and software update after the ‘other.
The performance, the interface, the semi-autonomous driving, the super charging and then again the design, come before the hunt for (many) imperfections, which will still be corrected over time. And customers are fine with it: those same buyers who would not tolerate any mistakes from German manufacturers forgive Elon Musk’s company everything in exchange for cars that anticipate the driving of the future. Which side of the fence will Apple position itself on? It will aim to stand out for the obsessive attention to detail it has accustomed us to, perhaps sacrificing the most radical innovation or, on the contrary, it will follow the (much more tech company) approach of constant innovation, continuous upgrades and corrections in course of work? Filloux seems to be wondering whether Apple’s own corporate culture requires it to pursue both goals at the same time. If the tech company is not almost obliged to guarantee high quality and rapid innovation and disrupting to keep faith with itself, as well as to have some chance in a highly competitive market.
Especially when you consider where Apple starts from, that is practically from scratch: dominant in a market where it produces and delivers hundreds of millions of iPhones a year with unmatched margins, it should immediately produce at least one hundred thousand electric vehicles a year just to be able to say that it exists in a sector with notoriously low margins. To give a comparison, Tesla produced 185,000 in the first quarter of 2021 alone, while Mercedes-Benz produces an average of 2.4 million in a year. In addition, to be successful, the Cupertino-based company should be able to adapt its extraordinary and hyper-controlled production machine to build a complex product such as an electric car, probably pushing and driving a profound transformation in the tried and tested partner Foxconn, the only one able to keep up with the maniacal specifications of the Apple (and in any case have long intended to build a factory on American soil). Everything, then, should take place while Apple develops a product that, in order to have sufficient chances, should “amaze” a bit in everything: from design to performance to quality, passing through software and up to assistance and the same way. where you will own an Apple Car. No wonder, therefore, that the Cupertino company has been working on it for years in complete confidentiality: the challenge, as mentioned, is titanic, and winning it does not seem at all obvious.
April 8, 2021 (change April 8, 2021 | 13:09)
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