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‘Future teardown’ of an Apple Car shows us who could be making the various elements


While we can’t say for sure that an Apple Car will ever go on sale, it’s a certainty by this point that the company is devoting substantial development resources to the project. Tim Cook said recently that there would be “massive change” in the car industry, and that “autonomous driving becomes much more important.”

But as a recent opinion piece on sister site Electrek argued, and Elon Musk warned, actually manufacturing a car is massively more complex than making consumer electronics devices. Apple will therefore be looking for partners to pull together different elements of the car. Re/code has put together an interesting look at the most likely candidates … 

None of the companies would comment on any conversations they have with the Cupertino giant about their own cars. None of them flat-out denied those conversations, either. Google, Tesla and Apple all declined to comment.

The list below is not exhaustive. Yet after conversations with nearly a dozen manufacturers, industry experts and tech companies involved in the world of self-driving cars, Re/code assembled a portrait of the leading, innovative companies and critical dynamics in the autonomous industry.

The exterior of the car could, it suggests, be made by five companies: Roush, Delphi, Edison2, Atieva and Renovo Motors. The first of those, Roush, is a Michigan-based “boutique automotive supplier” which already has one key claim to credibility in the field: it assembled the exterior for Google’s prototype self-driving cars.

Renovo recently teamed-up with engineers from Stanford University to create a self-driving electric DeLorean capable of donuts and drifting. While it was of course a PR stunt, you need some impressive tech to pull it off.

Atieva, founded by a former Tesla VP and with many former Tesla staff in its employ, is noted for its expertise in battery tech, and is working on building a complete electric car.

For the internals – including the technology required for self-driving capabilities – Continental, Bosch and Frimo are all listed as contenders. Bosch already has an impressive record in the field. It’s a key supplier to many of the world’s car manufacturers, including Tesla’s auto-pilot functionality. The company is also working on its own self-driving hardware, using a Tesla S as a testbed.

Continental is another Tesla supplier working on “systems that build autonomy into brakes, acceleration and steering.”


Autonomous cars require some serious processing power, and Nvidia is the chipmaker described as “ahead of the curve,” establishing an automotive division back in 2007 geared to adapting its video games expertise to the real world. It supplies in-car computers to both Tesla and Google, as well as other luxury carmakers, which can process data from “up to 12 cameras on a car, plus any Lidar and ultrasonic sensors.” Apple recently poached Nvidia’s director of deep learning.

Head on over to Re/code to read the full piece, which also covers cameras, LIDAR and more.

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  1. mockery17 - 7 years ago

    Can we seriously not have Roboto as the site font? It’s ugly as shit. And this is 9to5Mac, not 9to5Google.

  2. acslater017 - 7 years ago

    Apple, please put a Dropcam-type security camera on it! For insurance claims and theft prevention. And Find my AppleCar.

    • Ben Lovejoy - 7 years ago

      The car will certainly have plenty of cameras, so I’m sure it’ll do incident-logging.

  3. Why does a self driving car need side mirrors for?

    • … for when you drive it!, just because it’s self driving doesn’t mean that it will be driving all of the time, what about unsupported areas, or if traffic gets crazy and you have to drive it, plus it’s in regulation to have side mirrors.

    • Ben Lovejoy - 7 years ago

      What we’ve seen so far (eg. with Tesla) is conventional cars with limited self-driving capabilities. I’d expect the next step to be hybrid cars, offering a choice of human or computer driving, before we switch to cars that cannot be driven at all by a human.

    • focher - 7 years ago

      Because, despite Tesla’s attempts to get the rule changed, side mirrors are mandatory under federal government regulations.

  4. gkbrown - 7 years ago

    Are there actually people out there who want a self-driving car? If so, why?

    • jowens1259 - 7 years ago

      The last job I was on I worked 10 hours a day. If I went home it was a 15 hour trip. I would have loved a self driving car.

      • bqecze - 7 years ago

        It would be interesting to see what effect (positive or negative) autonomous cars would have on traffic. Might be bad at first but I figure it may improve things esp if there were some sort of centralized traffic management or information system.

    • galley99 - 7 years ago

      I enjoy driving, but not commuting.

    • David Hollenshead - 7 years ago

      Because they can’t drive or they suck at driving. The catch is that self driving cars will only be safe if there is no pedestrians, cyclists, human driven cars, etc. on the road. Which is to say that the basic idea of a self driving car is flawed, and will never be as safe as a skilled driver, but may be safer than a car driven by an incompetent, handicapped or elderly, driver.

  5. Matthew Perez - 7 years ago

    Next up, the iFixit teardown!

  6. ticjet - 7 years ago

    From whatever limited knowledge I have , that looks like a internal combustion engine. Everybody knows that Apple is looking at electric cars ( ask Elon Musk). Wish people do their home work properly…….

  7. bqecze - 7 years ago

    I suspect the first Apple car would follow the same logic many of the other Apple products have. Very solid function, but light on features for the first few iterations and slow introduction and improvement. A few iterations later a very solid product.

  8. David Hollenshead - 7 years ago

    Apple is probably not making a car, but rather developing technology that will appear in cars of other makes, as making a car is not always profitable, and involves significant liability.
    Take the Tesla for example, since it’s drive motors are directly connected via a gear reduction box, if the drive motor seizes, the drive wheels will lock up. Yes, Tesla claims to have a “neutral mode”, it will do nothing if a bearing on the motor seizes, and if this happens at highway speeds, people will get hurt .
    So if you were a very profitable company, would you want this kind of risk, or would you focus on the entertainment system, GPS mapping, etc ???


Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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