This ‘Apple freak’ CEO wants to build an Apple car

2015 Fiat 500e
Peter Braun/Digital Trends
Apple still won’t confirm the existence of a much-discussed car program known as “Project Titan,” but Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) CEO Sergio Marchionne hopes that if Apple really does launch a car, it will hire his company to build it.

Marchionne describes himself as an “Apple freak” who owns every type of product the company makes, is apparently eager for a partnership with Cupertino. It would make more sense for Apple to work with an established carmaker rather than try to build an entire car from scratch on its own, Marchionne told Bloomberg at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show, and he thinks FCA could make the ideal partner.

“I would assume we have the credibility to be one of the players they have looked at,” the FCA boss said. He believes FCA can speak Apple’s language and would approach a potential partnership in a more humble way than other car makers. Marchionne said Apple’s “syntax” would be more important than a partner’s car-making abilities, something other companies might not get. It was previously rumored that Apple approached BMW about using its i3 as the basis for an “iCar,” but that was never confirmed.

Although he is a fan of the company, Marchionne’s enthusiasm about an Apple car is still somewhat unusual. All reports so far point to an electric car, something Marchionne has never been very enthusiastic about. Recently, he said electric cars will take too much control of vehicle design away from manufacturers, and put it in the hands of suppliers. And on the Geneva show floor, he derided the idea of an electric Ferrari, saying he found electric cars’ lack of engine noise disturbing.

On the other hand, Apple could turn out to be the automotive partner FCA can’t get. Marchionne believes today’s high-tech cars are becoming too expensive to manufacture, and that another round of consolidation is needed to create larger companies with more resources to build them. Last year, he publicly discussed a merger between FCA and General Motors.

Of course, for Apple to partner with FCA, it needs to commit to building a car. Most of the evidence pointing to the existence of the Apple car project consists of job listings for people with automotive experience, and inquiries about testing autonomous prototype vehicles.

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