It’s been an open secret that Apple, the world’s largest technology company by revenue and the world’s most valuable brand, has been working on plans to build their own cars for years.
Apple has been reasonably tight-lipped about what they’re actually doing, however – but as Tesla CEO Elon Musk quipped during a BBC interview back in 2016, “it’s pretty hard to hide something if you hire over a thousand engineers to do it.”
We know that Apple wants the car to be autonomous (i.e. self-driving), as well as electric, but also that Apple’s struggled to find manufacturing partners to work with in order to bring their dreams to fruition. Over the years, Apple’s been in talks with Hyundai, Kia, Toyota and Volkswagen, but according to Techradar, it seems that the most likely outcome will be that Apple goes it alone with their car project, à la Tesla.
Techradar also points out that “while Apple does its best to keep plans a secret, regulatory filings and patent requests do provide some factual insight into its activities.” And it’s those patent requests that have allowed one firm to create a convincing look at what a future Apple car might look like.
Vanarama, a UK car leasing and insurance company, has sneakily spied on Apple’s patents to create a 3D render of an Apple car, its design cues informed by Apple’s current design language as well as by the technologies Apple is keen to protect. And you know what? It doesn’t look too outlandish.
While the frosted white paint job and grille design – inspired by the iPod and the MacBook Pro respectively – take a little bit of creative liberty, and the choice to render the car as both an EV and a SUV coupe is because it “aligns with automotive trends”, other design features of the Vanarama render directly reference genuine Apple patents.
For example, the doors: Apple has filed a patent for ‘adaptive doors’, with scooped windows that increase headroom when boarding and rear suicide doors for ease of access. The pillarless structure, which resembles the look of the Tesla Cybertruck, is also informed by Apple patents.
It’s interior tech where we have the best idea of what an Apple car will look like. We know Apple has plans for a customisable dashboard with a seamless, touchscreen display, and that they want to integrate their virtual assistant, Siri, into the car’s infotainment system.
In line with their self-driving aspirations, Apple also has plans to introduce a customisable, swivelling seat layout. Indeed, some of Apple’s previous designs have done away with a driver’s seat entirely, Car and Driver reports. That the car has windows at all is interesting, as a 2018 patent suggests that Apple have also previously toyed with the idea of going windowless and employing VR tech instead.
It must be stressed that this is simply a high-tech ‘artist’s rendition’ and not representative of what an Apple car will actually look like (if Apple actually ever bringing one to market and that this isn’t all just vaporware). That said, Vanarama have done a great job, and we reckon it’s a pretty realistic vision.
Vanarama has also created artist’s renditions of what a Google or Samsung car might also look like, following a similar methodology where they’ve used patents filed by the tech giants to inform potential design choices.
Samsung (who have been making cars for years thanks to their joint venture with Renault) has filed patents which suggest plans to take the foldable screen technology they debuted with their Galaxy Fold smartphone and apply it to flexible car infotainment systems.
Google, who like Apple have long been nursing automotive aspirations and developing autonomous vehicle tech, would likely integrate cross-device communication that would allow their car to interact with Google Home, as well as with the rest of their expansive product universe, such as Google Maps, Vanarama speculates.
Speaking of futuristic cars, check out Porsche’s vision of of the future of motorsport – their insane Mission R concept car – below.
These electric dreams might be cool, but not everyone’s champing at the bit for an Apple car.
As one commenter on HYPEBEAST’s Instagram post about the Vanarama render sarcastically put it, “can’t wait to have a car that drives slower every update to ‘help save battery life’ and needs a dongle (sold separately) to charge.” Touché.
We just wonder what Steve Jobs, who famously drove a Mercedes-Benz SL 55 AMG, would think about all this…