For years, we have heard rumours about Apple’s ambitions on creating an electric vehicle. According to The New York Times that has received confidential information from a number of Apple managers, many serious attempts to design an Apple vehicle, or manufacture one with an auto-industry partner have been discarded. Instead of its own car and design, Apple has now partnered with Volkswagen to manufacture an electric van for Apple from the Transporter T6 van.
Apple’s primary objective with the electric VW Transporter T6 van is to create a self-driving shuttle for its employees. The shuttles will transport employees between Apple’s Silicon Valley office complexes. The vans will have a driver to take control if needed.
The frame, wheels and chassis of the VW T6 vans will remain, which means that the essential vehicle technology comes from Volkswagen. Apple is replacing many components, such as the dashboard and seats. Apple is also installing additional computers, sensors and a large battery into the van.
Of course, a shuttle for employees can’t be the only reason why Apple invests millions of dollars into a driverless van project. It is a learning experience that will help the company to find its direction for its ambitions in the car industry.
The reason why this is exciting news for road travelers is that even though Volkswagen has already announced that the ID Buzz electric van will be available in 2022, the Apple/VW van may develop into another type of campervan. Since the Apple VW Transporter T6 is a self-driving electric vehicle, maybe we get a commercial, electric autonomous campervan one day.
If you want to have the background for all the rumors about Apple’s recent ventures in the auto industry, The New York Times article has all the juicy details how the mighty computer company has stumbled time after time during its mission to have a future in the electric vehicle business. Apple has tried to to design a car by itself, but failed, tried to convince BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, and other auto manufacturers to do what the computer company wants, but hasn’t succeeded.
The joint project with Volkswagen is already under work, but the original schedule (end of 2018) will not be met.