back to article Apple Watch exec Bob Mansfield 'gets into secret Apple car'

A former senior executive at Apple has returned to the company to oversee its secretive but long-rumoured car project, according to reports. Bob Mansfield stepped back from Apple's executive team in 2013, despite earning $85.5m a year, but remained around Cupertino as an adviser on special projects, including the Apple Watch …

  1. AndyS

    Wait, stop press...

    >Apple ... a spokesperson for the company politely asked The Register...

    Are Apple talking to The Reg? When did this happen? How did I miss it? Forget the rest of the article, isn't this the big news? How does did does (immortal) Steve Jobs pronounce it? Reg with a hard g, or soft?

    1. Colin Wilson 2

      Re: Wait, stop press...

      > How does SteveJobs pronounce it?

      He rhymes it with Smeg

  2. Mage Silver badge

    Car?

    Apple competing with Tesla is slightly more believable than competing with Ford, GM, Toyota, Nissan or VW.

    Still hard to fathom.

    But then they did make a pointless watch. I wonder does an Apple car only unlock with an Apple iPhone?

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Car?

      2019 does indeed sound a bit late to come to market. By then pretty everyone and their dog will either have launched, or have advanced plans for their next generation cars.

      Still, this assumes that Apple wants to go head-to-head in the production. Even going the cheap way Tesla did to get capacity this doesn't sound like the best thing to do with their cash pile. But it also doesn't fit the way Apple does business. Maybe they're working on some kind of mobility subscription concept which combines Uber with a Merc: nice car whenever you want one. At a price.

      Or they could just be about to buy Fiat / Chrysler because it's cheap.

      I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

    2. cd

      Re: Car?

      Probably starts via iTunes, if you can find the starting procedure in that mess.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Go back 10 years ago

      When the Apple phone was still just a rumor. People thought Apple was crazy to think they could compete with the likes of Nokia. Most thought it would basically be a typical phone that integrated iPod functionality, and they were already too late as phones that integrated MP3 support had already hit the market.

      When the iPhone was finally announced, people thought it was too big (including me) and when they saw the price thought they were crazy and thought Jobs was on drugs for suggesting that Apple might one day have as much as 1% of the worldwide mobile share - that would mean selling 10 million phones a year! They are now above 10%.

      Currently the car is just a rumor, though like 2006 we're pretty sure it is a matter of when, not if. Like 2006, no one knows exactly what features it would have - will it be just an electric, or be autonomous? Will it be available for purchase, or only for per-trip / per-day rental? Will they even make cars, or will they license software to the Fords and Toyotas of the world?

      Like the mobile market in 2006, the automotive market in 2016 has a lot of entrenched players that people can't imagine won't still be around in the future. Where is Nokia today? Where is RIM? How much has Samsung changed? In 2036, I am willing to bet that between the companies you listed - Ford, GM, Toyota, Nissan and VW - at least two will either not exist (not bought out, just gone away) or be a shell of their former selves like Nokia & RIM are today.

      Not saying that Apple will be responsible, but the automobile market there will be completely different due to a totally different set of expectations from those purchasing cars about what features are important to them, just like the mobile market is completely different from what it was in 2006, due to a totally different set of expectations about what features are important to them. Apple doesn't have any history of making cars, but neither did they have any history of making phones. Tesla shows it is possible for a car company to build themselves up from nothing, and they didn't have anywhere remotely close to the resources Apple has to make this happen. I have no idea if they will be successful or not, but I don't dismiss their chances out of hand like you, because automobile world is about to be disrupted like the mobile world was, and a new set of players will emerge at the top.

      If I had to guess, I'd say all but one Japanese car company will fail to survive long term, at least one Chinese car company will spring up to worldwide prominence, and Samsung has a good chance of becoming a major player in the market. At least one company that comes purely from the world of technology (I don't count Samsung because they make everything from chips to ships) such as Apple, Google or someone we haven't considered yet will emerge as a major player.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Go back 10 years ago

        "(I don't count Samsung because they make everything from chips to ships) such as Apple, Google or someone we haven't considered yet will emerge as a major player."

        I suspect Samsung will continue to be a huge player in world markets mainly because they are so diversified. Apple, on the other hand, barely have a dozen products although they do have huge amounts of cash stashed away. A cursory search doesn't indicate they are investing that money in terms of diversifying. It appears to be a simple financial investment fund for all intents and purposes. A sudden market shift could kill Apple, but Samsung would almost certainly survive. (Apple might survive on it's cash and might be able to diversify quickly) Apple seem to be banking on a US "tax amnesty" and bringing the money "home" rather than worldwide business and product diversity. Despite being a worldwide seller and a multinational builder of products, they do seem remarkably insular in their outlook.

        Google seem to be diversifying and investing all over the place.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Go back 10 years ago

          Why should companies want to diversify? Focus on what you know, and do it well. Samsung has a lot of different divisions, and is essentially a lot of companies that are all owned by the same holding company as a result of purchases not expansion. Similar to what Berkshire Hathaway has become. The way those are created is very different from a company like Apple choosing to expand into a bunch of markets, which I think would be counterproductive.

          Apple could afford to do that, but as an investor I'm glad they don't, and keep their cash in safe investments like short term T-bills, though I'd rather they just return it via dividends (but I understand the reasons regarding US tax law why they don't) They make plenty of acquisitions, but they are always small and in line with where their business is, they aren't buying companies simply to diversity into other markets. To the extent they want to be in other markets (like phones, or cars) they want to do it themselves. It isn't like they aren't doing R&D, they are spending over $10 billion this year. They just don't put out press releases hyping what they're thinking about years in advance like Google, who has been talking about "Loon" for how long now and still nothing?

          Google is expanding into other stuff, but collectively they lose a lot of money on everything but their core advertising business. Not nearly as bad as Microsoft's losses outside their Windows/Office monopoly, but still. That's why they had to restructure the company and use different classes of stock, so the shareholders don't get a say. Maybe one of Google's "Moonshots" will pay off big time, but for all we know Apple has a few too, they just prefer to keep quiet.

    4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Car?

      " I wonder does an Apple car only unlock with an Apple iPhone?"

      Not a problem. If you can afford an iCar then an iPhone +iWatch is just spare change.

      1. Darryl

        Re: Car?

        "I wonder does an Apple car only unlock with an Apple iPhone?"

        Worse, it would have to be logged into iCloud and used cars will be unable to be activated because they're still locked to someone else's iCloud account.

  3. wolfetone Silver badge

    Whats the point in having a car that'll be obsolete in 2 years time?

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Doesn't seem to bother a lot of people about their mobile phones…

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      How are iPhones obsolete in two years time?

      Did everyone's iPhone 5S stop working? What do you consider makes a phone "obsolete"? If 5G comes out and your phone only does 4G, is now obsolete? If it performs the same functions it performed when you bought it, I'd argue it is not obsolete. Maybe it needs repair/maintenance at some point, but the most likely things to break (battery/screen) are easily replaceable. They aren't designed to be repairable for everything though, if the cellular chip quits working you can't fix it, you have to buy a new one as fixing that would cost more than the phone is worth.

      You can argue that when the software updates stop it is obsolete, because there will eventually be known security holes. By that measure some Android phones are obsolete the day you buy them, and almost all are two years after purchase. At least Apple gives you five...

      The same applies for a car. It isn't obsolete as long as it does what it did when you bought it. A car purchased today will be "obsolete" in the sense that it requires a person driving it once cars that can drive themselves are available, but that's hardly the fault of the automaker since that functionality isn't possible today. Cars require maintenance/repairs, and are designed to be more repairable than phones, but even cars can reach a point where it isn't worth fixing it (a blown engine on a 15 year old car) If cars have remotely exploitable security holes, they'll need updates, and we'll just have to see how that works out. Probably will require legislation to enforce it.

    3. Mark 85 Silver badge

      What's the point....? Profit. Many people lease a car instead of buy. If it's 2 years or 3 years before it's obsolete, the leasing plan would work. Then there's used market....

  4. Haku
    Coat

    Secret footage of secret Apple Car...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CtqEdrfRwi4

  5. dbayly

    An iAUto would ....

    .... change shape and colour every new software release

    .... have controls that were invisible unless you swiped left (with 2 or 3 fingers) on the steering wheel (or left , or something)

    ... not have a speedometer as it would clutter the user interface

    .... an entertainment centre that only played music available on iTunes

    ... have a unique charging plug

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: An iAUto would ....

      And the windscreen would crack if the car was in a 1 mph collision.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: An iAUto would ....

      And sealed fuel tank.

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        Re: An iAUto would ....

        And the warranty would be void the minute it rained.

        1. Slartybardfast

          Re: An iAUto would ....

          Each year to get into the new model you would have to go on a diet, as each one would be thinner than the last.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: An iAUto would ....

            "as each one would be thinner than the last."

            No problem, it would only be a pointless 0.5mm

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: An iAUto would ....

              "No problem, it would only be a pointless 0.5mm"

              The word "pointless" is superfluous. Obviously all sharp edges and corners will be rounded off.

    3. Tromos

      Re: An iAUto would ....

      ...have square wheels with rounded corners

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: An iAUto would ....

        Only take you where Apple wanted you to go, around the walled garden.

    4. Geoffrey W

      Re: An iAUto would ....

      Oh, Oh...I can play this...Don't sit on it (or in it) or it'll bend.

  6. thesykes

    Quality

    "Doug Betts, the lead for global quality at Fiat Chrysler"

    Don't they continually rank bottom in American reliability surveys?

    Here's an interesting snippet about Mr Betts...."Three years later, Betts would be gone. He left the day after the release of the Consumer Reports reliability survey in which Dodge, Ram, Jeep and Fiat finished 25th, 26th, 27th and 28th among 28 brands ranked."

    1. wolfetone Silver badge

      Re: Quality

      But Fiat always stood for "Fix It Again Tomorrow" long before Betts got there.

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: Quality

        Remember the Alfa-sud?

        now that was a rustbucket.

        It would be a huge mistake to buy Fiat/Chrysler unless they were to kill all their current products and sack the workforce (and I mean almost 100% of it) and just use the plants for manufacturing.

        The only people I'd keep on would be those who worked in the supply chain. Those are the people that apple would need when building their car. We all know how important the supply chain is to Tim Cook.

        1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

          Re: Quality

          "Remember the Alfa-sud?"

          And how. First car I ever owned.

        2. TeeCee Gold badge

          Re: Quality

          Ah ye, the Alfasud. Give 'em credit, that was a breakthrough in materials science from the Italians.

          Water-soluble steel...

    2. Youngone Silver badge

      Re: Quality

      Quality? Yes they've heard of it.

      I test drove a Chrysler a few years ago when I was in the market for a new car. It was the cheapest feeling car of any I tested, nothing really fit properly, and it handled like a brick.

      My sister-in-law bought a Jeep at about the same time which broke down three times in the first year she owned it.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Have they filed a patents for "Transportation using wheels" or "Doors with windows to allow exit and entry to transportation vehicle" yet?

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Transportation using round wheels.

      FTFY

    2. Haku

      I think they're still trying to patent the wheel.

  8. chivo243 Silver badge
    Coat

    Next stop, Apple Air

    Where you lose your luggage and get blamed for packing it wrong.

    Apple in the car market? Why does the name John DeLorean seem spring to mind? Maybe the failed Apple car, iCar/iAuto will feature in a movie someday?

    Yes, it's a nice day, I'll get my coat anyway...

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Next stop, Apple Air

      OMG, they are working on a time machine! Let's hit 88 mph and see what happens!

      But seriously, I can't see Apple actually building cars; the business models don't seem compatible in any way. Developing technologies that existing car manufacturers can use however seems plausible.

  9. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
    Pint

    Gary Numan reference

    From his song "Here in My Car". Much appreciated -------------->

    1. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: Gary Numan reference

      +1 !

      It's the only way to live!

  10. Mr.Mischief

    iAuto features

    It goes back in time and patents the car, phone, tv, watch, computer and pretty much everything else.

  11. stucs201

    Will they be using their usual designer?

    If they really do produce an autonomous car and it's designed by their usual designer then I propose that everyone should refer to them as Jony Cabs...

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Will they be using their usual designer?

      Good, can we get Arnie to test drive it:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xGi6j2VrL0o

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    iCar

    Since it will likely be targeted at hipsters the first model will actually be a fixie.

  13. Dieter Haussmann

    If Apple get their way, we can be waiting for an disable activation lock to unlock the door handle within just a few years.

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