What if your car operated more like an iPhone?
Sleek and stylish on the outside, made out of carbon fiber and aluminum, highly intelligent in terms of the dashboard inside and the safety features, with a battery that lasts all day--or enough to drive to work and back all week.
If a car like that didn't cost north of $100,000, we'd buy one. In fact, even if it cost in the six figure range, we'd think about it. Right?
That might be a future dilemma now that Apple is connected to the famed British supercar company McLaren. According to reports, the company famous for making the iPhone and the iPad is in talks to either acquire or invest in the company known for making one of the most expensive and technically advanced cars ever made (that would be the P1, which costs $1.15M). McLaren denied the rumor.
As a major car enthusiast, when I first heard about this possibility, it made perfect sense. There's a long held rumor that Apple is already developing the electric car technology to compete with Tesla, likely designing the dashboard interface so that it's incredibly intuitive. You might tell Siri you are heading to the office and the robotic assistant would find the fastest route. Your music would stream, not from a synced iPhone but directly from the Apple Music service. In fact, the entire car would operate much like a computer or a smartphone with vast amounts of storage.
Forget summoning your car out of the garage--an Apple-McLaren supercar might know where you are at all times based on your iPhone location. It might summon you. I can imagine what safety tech would be like in the hands of a company that already understands--and even predicts--user behavior better than any tech company on the planet. Autonomous driving? Yes. Electric motor? Sure.
It's about time for car companies to embrace a user interface that is intended to simplify, not confuse, the driver. Apple will reduce distraction by doing it right.
This could be matched with twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter engine, carbon fiber parts for durability and a lightweight design, and a stunning 903-horsepower that propels you from 0-60 in less than three seconds. If Apple is really buying McLaren as the reports suggest, this is a total automotive coup. It's a way to marry user interface, hardware design, automotive superiority, and a thrill ride all in one.
Of course, there are some questions. Namely, can Apple really make this happen.
If you've ever sat in a Tesla Model S or driven one, even if you're incredibly biased and a die-hard fan, you know that the interior of the car feels a bit amateurish. No, really. The car has not existed that long (since June of 2012), and the panels on the doors, the dashboard, and the finer touches like the seat-belt buckles all seem like they were prototyped on a 3D printer. Cars like the Ford Fusion or the VW Passat have much more of a "lived in" look based on decades of design expertise.
Apple has never designed a car. They have worked with the car companies on Apple CarPlay integration to sync your phone to the dash display, but that's about it. When your iPhone has a problem, it resets and you start punching up another email. When your Apple electric car resets, you drive into a guardrail.
Those are not meant as serious criticisms, though. I'm all for Silicon Valley innovation when it comes to cars, especially if it means we can pay attention to the road more and let the car do some of the thinking for us. We'll talk to Siri more; the famous company behind the Mac computer will make all of the controls easy to understand. And, McLaren will make sure it's a thrill ride. Bring it on, I'm ready.
Correction: An earlier version of this column misstated McLaren's reaction to the rumor that Apple was in talks to acquire or invest in the company. The company had denied the report, not declined to comment.