“Apple executives were impressed with the fact that we abandoned traditional approaches to car making and started afresh. It chimed with the way they do things too,” an unnamed source at BMW told Reuters.
According to the report, Tim Cook visited BMW’s headquarters in 2014 and asked the carmaker’s board members very detailed questions about production of its i3 electric vehicles, which BMW manufactures using lightweight carbon fiber. BMW execs were willing to provide the parts for the Apple Car, according to Reuters.
Talks about a potential collaboration between Apple and BMW, however, ended shortly after that. Sources told Reuters that the reason was because Apple decided to try to build a car on its own. As for BMW, the carmaker started getting worried about revealing its manufacturing secrets and becoming just a mere supplier of car parts for the tech company. BMW denied the claims of a potential collaboration, and Apple declined to comment.
“We do not collaborate to open our ecosystems but we find ways, because we respect each other,” BMW’s head of research and development Klaus Froehlich told Reuters.
Why this matters: With over $200 billion in cash as of its
last earnings call, Apple certainly has the resources to take a few risks and enter the auto industry. These deep pockets could be why the Cupertino thinks it can go it alone. As for automakers like BMW, they seem to understand their need to partner with a tech company to develop next-gen vehicles. Building cars from scratch is hard, yes, but so is creating the mapping software that recalibrates in real time.
“We need to get away from the idea that it will be either us or them,” said Peter Schwarzenbauer, BMW’s management board member in charge of digital services. “We cannot offer clients the perfect experience without help from one of these technology companies.”