Daimler, BMW Abandon Talks With Apple About iCar; Why?

Apr 22, 2016 07:41 AM EDT | Vanessa Doctor

There are rumors that Daimler, BMW and Apple are planning to work on a car project. However, recent talks surfaced that the two car manufacturers have already backed out from discussions.

Apple did not officially confirm its plans to work on an iCar or an electric, semi-autonomous vehicle. The latest reports showed that Daimler and BMW have stopped talking to the tech company about the rumored car proposal, dubbed “Project Titan.”

German business publication Handelsblatt states that according to industry sources, the two carmakers exited discussions after they failed to agree on the subjects of control and data. Apple allegedly intended the car to be closely made into its own cloud software, while the German companies wanted to focus on customer data protection, which has been an essential factor in their long term plans. Apple reportedly planned to make a highly-networked electric car that also have limited self-driving capabilities.

Tim Cook, Apple CEO, previously went to the BMW headquarters in Munich, Germany while senior executives at Apple visited the BMW factory in Leipzig to understand more how the i3 electric car is made, The Verge notes. Discussions with BMW were the first to fail in 2015. Talks with Daimler followed recently in 2016.

Frankfurter Allgemeine, another German publication, stated that Magna, a Canadian-Austrian auto contract maker can still be a potential Apple partner. Apple is allegedly building a secret lab in Berlin, with 15 to 20 engineers from various German companies, to potentially work on its car project. Apple recently hired Chris Porritt, former vice president of vehicle engineering at Tesla, just after Steve Zadesky, the head of Project Titan, exited the company.

The Star reveals that Magna, which is based in Aurora, has assembled vehicles for both Daimler and BMW at its Magna-Steyr facility in Austria before. Apple executives also toured the facility in September 2015.

“I have no insight into whether or not Magna is the front runner to build vehicles for Apple or not but Magna is certain capable,” said Tony Faria, co-director of the University of Windsor’s Office of Automotive and Vehicle Research. Faria continued that they are interested in working with Apple and other tech giants who plan to join the vehicle industry.

None of the three companies confirmed that talks between them ever happened. Magna also did not comment on the recent issue.

More updates and details on Apple’s entry into the auto industry are expected soon.

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