The Detroit auto industry was almost dead by 2008, but Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and Tony Fadell, the “father of the iPod” and then SVP at Apple, had random conversations about the potential for an iCar.
“We had a couple of walks,” Fadell said in an interview with Bloomberg. The pair posed hypothetical questions to each other, such as: “If we were to build a car, what would we build? What would a dashboard be? And what would this be? What would seats be? How would you fuel it or power it?”
In an interview with Bloomberg’s Emily Chang, Fadell – now a Google employee – recalls the time when he and Jobs exchanged ideas about car designs. He admits, though, that he doesn’t have first-hand information about Apple’s car plans.
From Fadell’s point of view, phones and cars aren’t that different:
“A car has batteries; it has a computer; it has a motor; and it has mechanical structure. If you look at an iPhone, it has all the same things. It even has a motor in it,” said Fadell, who’s now the chief executive officer of Alphabet’s Nest home appliances company. “But the hard stuff is really on the connectivity and how cars could be self-driving.”
Fact is, the iCar keeps coming back into the headlines: The company allegedly played around with the idea before 2008 (when it was busy marketing its latest product, the iPhone), but it did show interest in cameras and televisions as well, and you know what happened: none of those products materialised.
The iCar somehow remained a topic of discussion: Phil Schiller said in 2012 court testimony that company execs had discussed building it before releasing the iPhone.
Mickey Drexler, an ex-Apple board member and head of J. Crew Group, also said that Jobs wanted to build a car.
Information about Apple’s car plans are sparse, but according to Bloomberg, the company has hundreds of engineers working on it and it should be unveiled by 2020.