A future Apple Car may be bad news for the likes of Ford, but doesn’t worry Don Butler, the company’s Executive Director for Connected Vehicles and Services. In fact, Butler welcomes Apple into the car space, and believe the Cupertino company has every chance of being successful.
“We welcome others joining. We welcome the activity that’s in the space. We think it’s exciting. It’s actually changed that we are embracing,” Butler told TrustedReviews during an interview at CES last week. “So I think Apple can do it. I think Google can do it.”
We still don’t know for sure Apple will ever launch a car, or what form it might take — but the company did start snapping up car-related domains earlier this month, including Apple.car and Apple.auto. It has also been hiring automotive experts.
In addition, other industry executives — including Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne and Tesla CEO Elon Musk — are adamant Apple is indeed building an electric car. Recent reports say the top secret project has been dubbed “Project Titan” internally, and Apple hopes to launch it in 2019.
Butler also believes that we will see the likes of Apple and Google teaming up with other companies “that bring different skill-sets to the table working together to deliver solutions that neither of them could have done possibly on their own.”
Some reports have claimed Apple has already been in talks with some car manufacturers, such as BMW, to discuss the possibility of combining their vehicle parts with Apple’s technology. Not everyone is as optimistic as Butler, however.
Back in September, former GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz told CNBC that he would be “very upset” about Apple’s rumored plans if he was a shareholder. “The automobile business, at best, is a very low-margin business,” he added. “And you can’t show me one company in the world that, to date, has made a nickel on electric cars.”
Don Akerson, former CEO of GM, echoed those feeling during an interview with Bloomberg. “I would be highly suspect of the long-term prospect of getting into a low-margin, heavy-manufacturing business,” he said. “A lot of people who don’t ever operate in it don’t understand and have a tendency to underestimate.”