How will Apple transform the automotive world? With a car you can never buy

A car from Cupertino? An Apple auto? The iCar, for goodness sake? Some scoff, calling it preposterous and questioning the legitimacy of the “sources” who told Bloomberg an electric vehicle could come as early as 2020. Others embrace the idea, eagerly hoping Apple will take on the likes of Tesla and Elon Musk in the electric-vehicle game.

When it comes down to it, it’s likely — if those sources are to be believed — that Apple is indeed building a car. Starting a car company really is just a money game, when it’s all said and done. And as we know, Apple has plenty of that, having reported a record net profit of $18 billion last quarter alone. If a company has that sort of cash, it can hire all the people needed to make the parts fall into place. And a recent report from 9to5Mac detailed the key execs Apple has hired, from Mercedes-Benz and Tesla parts makers like A123 Systems and ECMO Gears.

Considering all that, a 2020 launch date for the Apple car may sound surprising but is actually fairly reasonable.

Indeed, an Apple car — like so many Apple products before it — may transform car sales, but it won’t necessarily revolutionize the automotive world with its design or performance. Frankly, Apple would be remiss to try to reshape how cars are formed or how fast they can go. That’s another story, though.

Instead, if it’s smart and serious about entering the car realm, Apple should launch the world’s first share-only car. That and that alone would shake up and turn the automotive industry upside down — in Apple’s favor.

Dealers forsaken

Tesla, as we have seen time and time again, is fighting an uphill battle to circumvent the dealer network in this country, keen to sell cars directly to customers. There are plenty of reasons why Tesla might want do this. Chief among them is that Elon Musk wants to do things his way, rather than follow the beaten path.

Apple, like Tesla before it, will want to blaze its own EV trail as well. And following Musk’s would be unwise for a whole host of reasons. Never actually selling the car to consumers, though, would solve many issues.

First, never selling but rather sharing the car would keep the power in the hands of the Apple brand, and out of the grubby meat hooks of third-party dealers. Second, it’d be the road yet untraveled, which is sexy (and all-too Apple). And most important, it would be the only substantive way to redefine and leave Apple’s indelible mark on the automotive industry. Think Different, right? Because car sharing is coming, and with or without Apple it will change the way we relate to cars and individual mobility.

Share me

Car sharing is coming in a serious way, whether it is in a few years or a few decades … and all the major brands know it. But it seems none wants to be the first to really embrace it. This makes sense, because their current business model works (and why fix something that isn’t broken?).

Car sharing is inevitable, though. As global populations become more urbanized and our gadgets continually redefine freedom and mobility, fewer people will be interested in owning a car. That said, they’ll still need one from time to time. And that’s where sharing comes into play.

Never actually selling the car to consumers would solve many issues.

Automakers like Audi and Ford have told me at length how they aren’t opposed to car sharing; it will mean more cars on the road, racking up more miles more quickly. That means more cars will need to be produced, which equates to more profits.

To get car sharing truly rolling, there needs to be a spark to start the car-sharing fire, however, and Apple could be the flint. It stands alone — thanks to those vast sums of money and proven track history as an transformer — as the biggest threat to the automotive establishment.

So put away your Apple Pay, fanboys, and stop hoarding iTunes gift cards. You won’t be buying an Apple Car anytime soon.

But we may all be sharing rides in them regardless.

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the beliefs of Digital Trends.

Cars

We get up close with the Vision iNext concept to learn about BMW’s future

Through a massive worldwide campaign that visits various major cities around the world, we get our exclusive opportunity to get up close and personal with BMW’s latest Vision iNEXT Concept to learn about automaker’s future plans.
Emerging Tech

These flying cars want to take your commute to new heights

The future is closer than you'd think: Companies around the world are working on flying car models, with many successful tests! Here are all the flying cars and taxis currently in development, and how they work!
News

Lucid Motors accepts $1 billion investment from Saudi Arabian fund

The Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia will invest $1 billion in upstart electric car company Lucid Motors. Lucid hopes to launch a Tesla-fighting luxury sedan called the Air by 2020.
Emerging Tech

Smart sound system will give every car passenger their own wireless audio stream

Can't agree on what to listen to in the car? Imagine if each passenger could get their own way, courtesy of a personal audio stream — no headphones required. Sounds impossible, but it's almost here.
Cars

Volkswagen shows us the workaholic side of its modern-day classic van

The Volkswagen I.D. Cargo concept is an electric, connected delivery van based on the I.D. Buzz concept from 2017. It boasts up to 350 miles of range and cool features like solar panels on the roof and a 230-volt outlet for power tools.
Cars

It’s not easy being green: California strips HOV rights from clean-air cars

Changes to California's Clean Air Vehicle decal program are raising the ire of early adopters. The decals let LEV and ZEV drivers travel solo in commuter lanes. More than 200,000 drivers will lose the privilege January 1.
Features

Will high-res radar make tomorrow’s cars safer?

Modern cars have sensors designed to make driving safer. The problem? They don’t work well. A combination of radar, lidar, and cameras is a solution, but we aren’t there yet.
Cars

BMW’s redesigned Z4 gets two turbocharged engines, long list of tech features

The redesigned BMW Z4 will be available in sDrive30i Roadster and M40i Roadster guises when it goes on sale next year. The more powerful M40i will do zero to 60 mph in just 4.4 seconds, according to BMW.
Cars

Exclusive: Faulty radars are compromising Nissan’s emergency braking system

Faulty radar modules are causing the automatic emergency braking system in select 2018 Nissan vehicles to turn off. AEB is designed to alert a driver of proximity to the car ahead, and apply the brakes when the driver can't.
Smart Home

Here’s how to pre-order everything Amazon announced this week

Amazon announced new devices available in its Echo, Fire TV, and AmazonBasics lineups. Most of the devices aren't available quite yet but if you head over to Amazon, you can pre-order them.
Cars

Tesla says dash cam feature using car’s built-in cameras is coming soon

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is promising the next version of Autopilot, which is expected imminently, will include a dash cam feature that uses the car's built-in cameras. It's a feature many Tesla drivers have long been asking for.
Product Review

With the XT4, Cadillac's tech game goes from frustrating to first class

The 2019 Cadillac XT4 is the American luxury brand’s first small SUV, slotting under the XT5. Aimed at younger buyers, the XT4 is intended to be a nurturing product — something to introduce new customers and lead to future Cadillac…
Cars

Amazon Alexa can now hitch a ride in any car with Echo Auto

At its massive hardware event, Amazon unveiled Echo Auto, a dashboard-mounted device that adds Alexa to any car. It's one of myriad ways Amazon is trying to integrate Alexa with cars.
Cars

Aced it! Tesla’s Model 3 earns a five-star crash-test rating

The results are in and they're great: the rear-wheel drive Tesla Model 3 has aced the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's different crash tests and earned a five-star safety rating.