The Apple rumour mills are in full production, as plans of a potential electric car by Apple do the rounds. Apple has allegedly put a few hundred of its people to work on a skunkworks project to develop an autonomous self-driving vehicle. Whether such a project will amount to anything is anybody’s guess – there are even theories that this ‘leak’ was timed to prevent investors from thinking that Apple could have nothing else up its sleeve after recording the highest profit margin in history.
But such a car could spell wonders for the alternative energy car segment. I am no Apple fanboy, but it is inarguable that Apple seems to have the Midas touch when it comes to launching new segments in the market, be it the personal computer, music player, touch-enabled phone or tablet.
It is also the right company for the job, for an Apple product is bound to be lapped up by a significant portion of its fan club which will ensure it’s the next big desirable thing– just what the electric car industry needs.
Tesla founder Elon Musk so wanted competition in the industry that he released the patents for his car for open use. While that may seem counter intuitive, competition is key to kickstarting a segment in the market. While companies such as BMW, Chevrolet and even Ferrari have all embraced electric engines at one point or the other, the potential to make it a real movement seems untapped so far.
Whether electric cars truly reduce the strain on the environment is another question, with the rare earths used in their batteries often cited as being more harmful to the environment in terms of their extraction and processing. There are also issues regarding its profitability model – electric cars seldom generate large profits. But Apple has more cash in hand today than any auto manufacturer in the world; the point is that they can afford an experiment.
It’s not a good time for the environment. India has announced plans to double its coal production by 2020, a move that will have a significant strain on the environment. India remains resolutely against a pledge to reduce emissions, with the ethical question of social development versus the environment constantly in play. While this has little to do with an electric car that will in all likelihood occupy the top shelf in a luxury segment, it does give a little perspective on the urgency to revolutionize the environmental technology segment.
There are already electric car manufacturers out there. Some, such as the Reva lineup in India, are pretty good. Others, like the Tesla Roadster, are more than good; they’re awesome.
But just as there were already touch phones before the iPhone released, and tablets before the iPad released, the industry perhaps still needs that one product to release that will revolutionize the market.
Will Apple make the defining electric car of the future? Only time will tell. If nothing else, they could just buy Tesla and give them more money.
Image Source: The Viewspaper