According to The New York Times, Apple has partnered with Volkswagen to create an electric self-driving car.
Apple initially attempted their negotiations with German carmakers BMW and Mercedes-Benz to develop the car but it fell through with both companies refusing to give Apple control over the design and customer experience of the vehicles. Apple is now partnering with Volkswagen to take on the project.
Apple signed the deal to transition the new T6 Transporter vans into their own self-driving shuttles for employees. Volkswagen has an autonomous car partnership with Aurora founded by Chris Urmson, the head of Google's autonomous car project, and Steling Anderson, the engineer for Tesla's Autopilot and Model X which provide a promising team. However, The New York Times reports the project is long overdue and the Apple's car team is entirely focused on building the vehicle.
Gene Munster, a venture capitalist and managing partner at Loup Ventures, views Apple's decision to partner up with Volkswagen beneficial for the long-term for sustainable services. With Apple's market cap approaching $1 trillion and as a software and services platform, their pursuit of autonomous mobility could prove to be beneficial for them later. By taking over control of the customer experience and design, Apple will change the cars to provide a high tech experience that's usually associated with the brand while exploring and testing the possibility of autonomy first in their own campus among their employees.
"We are focusing on autonomous systems... It's a core technology we view as very important... We sort of see it as the mother of all AI projects," said Apple CEO Tim Cook.