Reviving an old ‘iCar’ rumor, Business Insider on Monday ran a story citing an Apple employee as saying that the Cupertino company has been in fact working on something in “vehicle development“ that will “give Tesla a run for its money.”

“Apple’s latest project is too exciting to pass up,” the source said. “I think it will change the landscape and give Tesla a run for its money.”

The following day, Bryan Chaffin, co-founder of The Mac Observer, wrote he was “certain” that Apple’s building a car after talking to sources who estimated there’s an “80 percent chance” of it working on an actual car rather than some car-related tech.

Could Apple be really building an automobile? What’s going on here?

Another circumstantial piece of evidence Chaffin provided after talking with another source is that “a lot of people at the top in Silicon Valley consider it a given that Apple is working on a car.”

“I should add that when I asked one of my sources flat out to put a percentage chance on Apple working on an actual car — rather than some kind of car-related technology — I was told, ’80 percent,’” he added.

Then there’s Seth Weintraub, the guy who runs 9to5 sites and, a blog dedicated to Tesla and electric cars. He shared some inside info during yesterday’s Happy Hour podcast.

“I’ve heard some crazy stuff,” he said.

While acknowledging we’re too early in the game to make educated guesses, Weintraub proceeded claiming “Apple’s hiring people in the auto and audio industry that aren’t doing CarPlay stuff, they’re doing actual car stuff.”

Quick rewind back to last week, when Apple Insider ran images of a camera-mounted van, first spotted by Claycord. The vehicle was photographed while driving around the Bay Area.

Sightings of nearly identical vehicles bearing California license plates were reported last September in Brooklyn, New York and later in Hawaii, Madison, Wisconsin and Panama City, Panama.

Apple mystery van 001

The discovery prompted Apple watchers to speculate the purpose of the mystery vehicle. Could these photos be our early indication of an autonomous Apple automobile?

Although Apple’s not been issued permits for testing autonomous vehicles, it could have partnered with a firm that already has the necessary clearances, speculated technology analyst Rob Enderle.

And if the placement of the camera and radio equipment on the vehicle is anything to go by, Apple’s Dodge Caravans are probably just some specialized vehicles to capture street-level data for Apple Maps, akin to Street View.

What we do know for a fact is that Apple leased the vans under its own name, as established by the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

Apple mystery van 002

 Moreover, the iPhone maker is hiring robotics engineers to work in ”a unique development team.” Back in 2013, it hired a revered roboticist from Yale who was one of the leading engineers behind the Segway project.

According to a Wired report, Apple’s mystery van does have the equipment to be a self-driving vehicle. In all likelihood, these vehicles are cruising the streets in order to capture some kind of data, self-driving or not.

In that regard, capturing high-resolution street-level photography could help the company improve three-dimensional Flyover mode in Apple Maps, which is known to render distortions, like the one you see below, when one zooms in on tightly-packed city streets.

Apple Maps Flyover distortion

Meanwhile, die-hard fans continue to believe Apple is in fact testing its own self-driving car technology. For what it’s worth, Apple has thus far hired at least 50 Tesla people with expertise that is most suited to cars and focus on battery and materials technology.

But that’s hardly your smoking gun.

Commenting on the meme on his Daring Fireball blog, Apple pundit John Gruber said he knows nothing of any such project. “I know a lot of people at Apple, at all levels of the company, who love watches,” he hinted, adding “I also know many who love cars.”

It may be heretic to even exercise the notion that an iCar is on the horizon because conventional wisdom teaches us that Apple is a consumer electronics company.

Mercedes-Benz (CarPlay 001)

But on the other hand, Apple board member Mickey Drexler said in 2012 that Steve Jobs did want to build a car and apparently had even met with German car-maker Volkswagen back in 2007 to discuss the project.

“Look at the car industry; it’s a tragedy in America. Who is designing the cars?” Drexler said. “Steve’s dream before he died was to design an iCar.” “And,” Drexler added with a coy smile, “it would’ve been probably 50 percent of the market. He never did design it.”

And we also learned from Apple SVP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller’s testimony in the Apple vs. Samsung mega trial that the project wasn’t just a late-night brainstorming session, but actually something Apple brass tossed around in executive meetings.

People suggested all kinds of things Apple could do, Schiller recalled: “Make a camera, make a car, crazy stuff.”

You connect the dots…

Source: Business Insider, The Mac Observer

  • Rev Joel

    I think we’ve been Grubered.

    • Jurassic

      “He shared some inside info during yesterday’s Happy Hour podcast. “I’ve heard some crazy stuff,” he said.”

      Well there you have it. If someone is hearing “crazy stuff”, then the rumour must be true.

      (͡° ͜ʖ°)

  • Eikast

    There’s a 15% chance that someone will get sick within the next minute.

  • Jaco

    No, if they plan something like that, they would buy Tesla or something like that. I believe it is more for the Apple Maps app.

    • It’s been reported in the past that Apple is interested in Tesla. There’s also a lot of ex-Apple engineers that work there and have been poached from Apple…

  • TechLove

    Another iTV-like rumor.

    • Maxim∑

      except we didn’t see a iTV prototype driving in the road.

      • Krystian Łazowski

        Have we seen an iCar prototype?

  • Fanboy 

    Its true they will offer 3 models:
    Apple Car
    Apple Car Plus
    Apple Car Sport

    with future models:
    Apple CarPro
    Apple Car Air

    • avd98

      Starting at U$100,000,000.00

      • Fanboy 

        Starting at $50,000 with 1 tire
        $60,000 for 2 tires
        and $80,000 for 4 tires

      • Andres

        $100,000 and it hovers

      • Collin

        and 200,000 to make it thinner

      • cybersat

        Yeah, there are already people line up at Apple store to buy the car.

      • avd98

        Official Apple iCar Leather & Silicone covers now available. Only U$20,000.00

    • Krystian Łazowski

      And unibody of course.

      • Guest

        Only Android and Windows peasants use doors anyway.

      • Andrew

        I guess you could say it… wouldn’t have Windows installed…


      • nonchalont

        Oooo I don’t want some punk teenagers bendgating my ride. May go with the glass model. One car accident and it’s done. I’ll make sure to get AppleCare on my car. I’ll have to get “S” model of course since it’s faster.

    • TechLove

      Then Samsung will respond to apple by bringing
      Samsung car “the next many things are already here”
      They will offer:
      1) sCar
      2)sCar Pro
      3)sCar Pro 4.5(meters)
      4)sCar Pro 4.3
      5) sCar with wheels
      6) sCar with low quality alloys
      7) sCar with high quality alloys
      8) sCar with metal unibody
      9) sCar poop
      10) sCar piss.

      Need i say future models?

  • Paymon John Vafa

    even if its true. They should stop lol

  • igorsky

    In other news, Samsung announced that they too are working on a car. And that they’ve been working on it for a very long time.

  • Jeff Maxwell

    Any story citing Rob Enderle and/or Henry Blodget = automatic fail.

    By the way, how does anybody know that the van was registered to Apple? DMVs don’t give out that kind of information. Even if an “inside source” revealed it, that makes it an uncheckable fact. Coupled with all of the “unnamed sources” and questionable analysts involved in this story, I don’t know how anybody is suppose to take this seriously.

    You must have written this on the toilet with your computer because I can smell the stink coming off of it through my screen.

  • drewjbx

    I thought apple made computers… I mean ipods, oh wait… phones…. damn, cars now??

  • Yujin

    Don’t think apple wants to build thir own car. Too much money to develop an built but I’m sure it has to do with maps or car tech.

    • Bogdan Borod

      They are the most profitable and the biggest firm in the world, they do have the money 🙂 in fact i think they are the only firm who have enough money to revolutionize the car industry 🙂

      • @dongiuj

        Revolutionize the car industry? No. Revolutionize in-car entertainment/infotainment industry? Yes.

      • Bogdan Borod

        There is a principle: Aim high,mget high 🙂 and i think its on the foundation of Apple, and one of the Steve legacy. They were not making software for Nokia, when they know that the whole concept of the phone was not good 🙂 they make a phone ! Its the same situation here, why develope something what is wrong in its bone, when you could do something real !!

      • @dongiuj

        To revolutionise the car, that’s what we’re talking about in this conversation, it would need to be either:
        Powered by a different system. Hybrid? Way too late. Electric? Way too late. Hydrogean? Already produced and soon should be in mass production. Flying like in Back to the future or Total Recall? Now that would be revolutionised if it became real. Doubt that’s going to happen.
        Self driven cars? Already tested on the road successfully by google and Nissan…not sure about other companies yet. The only step forward apple could do is to jump ahead by putting it into mass production. This does not equal “revolutionise”.

        As a “tech” company I would imagine that if they are gathering people from different car makers/buying a car company the will try to beat everyone to mass production of a self driven car. That’s not revolution. It’s beating other people to produce something that has already been in the works and publicly announced before they can mass produce it. If anyone can win this race I think it’s apple due to the massive amount of finances they have.
        Personally i think it’s some sort of gadget/s for all cars but, of course, I could be wrong just like everyone else on this blog could be wrong.

  • cybersat

    Oh, no. Apple invents the car with 2 legs.
    “Texting while walking”

  • Lol in the end it will be called Car

  • Ian Leon

    I told youuuu

  • Ian Leon

    hey have you guys seen the emoji keyboard in iOS 8.3

  • If this is true it’d explain why Apple is so interested in Tesla…

    Even if it is true though the car would likely be priced way too high for most people to even consider it…

    • Rowan09

      I think it would be going after the Tesla market, since it would most likely be a high end electric vehicle.

  • Ariel

    Had to ask, will it have windows?

  • n0ahcruz3

    No way, but if they’re really interested they can just buyout Tesla.

  • iPhoneWINS

    no thanks

  • James G

    They might revolutionize what riding in a car entails (maps, CarPlay, automation) but to believe they’d be building a full on automobile is a stretch. They probably couldn’t manufactur or sell enough to remain as profitable as they are. Margins for 1000 cars aren’t like they are for 1000 phones. And it’s much easier to push 75,000,000 phones in a quarter than it ever will be to sell anywhere near that many cars.

    Now, tech in the car is another story. They could start selling tech to car manufacturers.

  • WiseBlasian

    Any car enthusiast would never buy a Apple car. That’s just silly.

  • ck125

    Well hopefully this fares better than their maps did at first. i can only imagine this leading someone off a cliff….

  • Recharged95E

    Only if Steve Jobs was around, he would say:
    “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants as long as it is WHITE.”

    Explains why they, google, and teh recent Samsung VR/Drone lab are sucking up all the robotics experts & companies as of late. Mainly for an IP win as well.

  • Dante Arellano

    Its like stupid to belive the apple is thinking in making something too coplex like building a car please really? If want to follow something really stupid very stupid…….very stupid so then follow google they making or pretent to making or imagining to making something that its a fellure even before they put it in the stores google glasses,smartphones,media stremers audio streamers tables if the made one a corrupt os name adroide or whatever fuckking name is it, they just got made money putting ads all over the internet and monitoring You and controlling the information

  • Proaxel

    Inb4 the copycats we all know and, er, love…. announce their own car!
    *cough Samsung cough*

  • Kash Gummaraju

    This article is more bull than actual possible rumors. Apple heading into the car industry with its own car is extremely unlikely. Not many people will buy an Apple-made car. Apple products are expensive to begin with and don’t work with non-apple certified products, heck the devices with lightning charging ports don’t even work with non-apple certified cables. Somehow people expect a car from a company that doesn’t care go improve cross platform compatibility? Not only would the price be much higher than a basic Tesla Model S, because 1. Not everyone who has an iDevice can afford it, most people buy one on contract
    2. There are much better overall and more tested vehicles from companies like Toyota, Tesla, BMW, and basically all the popular and affordable car manufacturers.
    3. Tesla makes cars to bring new technology to people as quickly as possible, shown by their new Model D. And they aren’t afraid to take risks. They also work to ensure someone with an Android can use their phone just like someone with iPhone would in the car. Apple wouldn’t do that, they’d much rather keep squeezing money out of the customer. Apple also wouldn’t bring anything different to the table than what other companies already have, at the most they’d bring in a more complete self driving version of Tesla Model D.

    Also Tesla is too good a company to be lost to a sale to Apple. Elon Musk and his engineers have been working wonders without the need for input from other companies. Beats wasn’t as important and innovative as Tesla is. They were more a easy to get valuable brand asset that Apple could stick their logo onto, to show that they had the upper hand in the music business.

  • George

    Just because you can make a touchscreen device doesn’t mean you can make an effing car.

  • “Im very pleased to join you all here for this event. Today; Apple reinvents the Automobile……”

  • @dongiuj

    That steering wheel looks dumb as f***