Apple is working on entering the world of the automotive industry more in competition with Google than with the traditional four-wheel builders. The theme is an electric four-(four?) wheel drive and cars driven by algorithms and lasers. Apple wasn’t (yet) present at the Geneva Motor Show but the Apple was among us to provoke the people who have produced cars for over a hundred years. To avoid making mistakes many managers have said that the possible entry of Tim Cook in the game is “an opportunity”.
Good thing I eventually met Chris Bangle, former head of design at BMW with a past in Fiat, someone who isn’t new to provocation. Today he deals with creativity in general but always has cars in his heart.
“ Hey Chris, what will happen in car design if the guys from Apple and Google come along?” “ The problem is that car designers lack the imagination to step out of their world. They can’t be bothered to project themselves out of a small world and this is dangerous for the industry. Some time ago I talked to some of my colleagues on how we could create a design that would last thirty years. They answered that they are not able to do it. Is there anything here at the Motor Show that you couldn’t have seen five years ago?”
Well, now the Apple guys are on their way and maybe they will help to change this prospective. “I don’t think so” Chris answers. “ Car design is a very definite field and has its depth and width. The boundaries define your work. When we were criticized at BMW for certain models it happened because we probably crossed those boundaries. But these limits are in the mind! If Apple and Google come along and start playing beyond the lines no one will understand this extension. It would be great if they moved the boundaries”.
And where is Tesla playing? “ They had so many opportunities but they made a vehicle that does not stand out from other sports cars. Pretty. Perfect. But does not embrace car design. Google car? Think, Google‘s challenge has always been not to cause any damage. Apple too is not known for provoking. If you don’t play within the known field, as Tesla does, you will not be accepted. This is the reason why Apple and Google will enter the sector playing by the rules”.