No, Porsche Is Not Going to Build the Apple Car | Here’s What Porsche’s Partnership With Apple Could Mean

Porsche Taycan Turbo S Credit: Mike Mareen / Shutterstock
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An offhand remark from Porsche’s CEO today perked up the ears of many Apple enthusiasts, leading to speculation that Project Titan may have found a new home with the luxury carmaker. However, the reality of the situation is probably a lot less exciting — or at least it’s exciting in a different way.

According to Reuters, Oliver Blume, Porsche’s chief executive, told investors that the carmaker plans to expand on CarPlay, and describes both Porsche and Apple as being “on the same wavelength.” Blume also disclosed that several managers from Porsche travelled to Cupertino late last year to “discuss possible joint projects” with Apple.

It’s become common knowledge by now that Apple has been shopping around for a manufacturing partner to actually help it turn its automotive vision into a tangible, mass-produced vehicle. While it’s easy to see how Porsche and Apple might align in terms of brand, it’s that same alignment that would likely make a Project Titan partnership impossible.

From everything we’ve heard, Apple has already been snubbed by most brand-named automakers, from Hyundai to Nissan — and likely beyond. In almost every case, the reasons given have been that no one wants to become a “Foxconn” and live in the shadow of Apple.

If even Hyundai and Nissan are worried about their brands, it’s a safe bet that a legendary automaker like Porsche wouldn’t even consider manufacturing a car with an Apple logo on it.

However, everything we’ve heard suggests that Apple’s goal is to produce a full autonomous vehicle entirely under its own brand. As a result, Apple appears to have since given up on talking to established automakers. Instead, it’s going to some of the bigger players who are accustomed to working behind the scenes.

According to the most recent rumours, Apple could announce a partnership by the end of this year, although more recent shakeups in the Apple Car team have cast some doubt on that.

In fact, according to well-connected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple doesn’t even have a car team right now.

Kuo notes that the team “has been dissolved for some time” although he doesn’t offer a specific timeline. The team definitely went through some big shakeups last year, culminating in the departure of project head Doug Field in early September.

The reasons for Field’s departure were unclear at the time; he could have been simply moving on to bigger and better things, or he may have been deserting a sinking ship. Field wasn’t the first executive to leave last year, although he was arguably the most important one. Apple lost several key managers earlier in 2021, although it also seemed to be building up the Apple Car team in other areas, perhaps moving more from hardware engineering into design and software intelligence.

At this point, it’s hard to say whether Project Titan is running out of gas or merely shifting gears to climb the next hill.

Apple and Porsche

Either way, it’s very unlikely that the talks between Apple and Porsche have anything to do with Project Titan. Apple has already gotten some of what it needs from Porsche in the form of Dr. Manfred Harrer, who served as a Vice President on the Porsche Cayenne product line.

With so much focus on the Apple Car, it’s easy to forget that Apple has its fingers in other, more practical areas of the automotive business.

Chief among these is CarPlay, and we already know that Apple is working on expanding CarPlay to control all of your in-vehicle systems.

In the past, most of Apple’s new vehicle integrations have launched in BMW’s vehicles. The BMW 5 Series was the first to support wireless CarPlay, by about a two-year margin, and Apple’s Car Key feature is still exclusive to BMW, nearly three years after it first launched in iOS 13.6. That’s expected to expand to other automakers this year, but BMW still has the lead for the newer NFC-based Car Key feature, which is already built into its high-end 2022 BMW iX.

Nonetheless, Apple and Porsche enjoy a pretty cozy relationship too, just in a slightly different way. While BMW is quick to embrace Apple’s standard CarPlay initiatives, Porsche seems interested in going more out of the box with Apple’s other services.

For instance, in 2019 Porsche announced that the all-electric Taycan was getting native Apple Music support, and the following year that expanded to Podcasts and even Apple Music lyrics — something that isn’t even possible using CarPlay.

To be clear, the Taycan also supports standard CarPlay, however that works through your iPhone. Porsche’s native Apple Music and Podcasts support is built directly into its infotainment system, and works through the vehicle’s own cellular connection.

In other words, Taycan owners can stream anything from Apple Music, including radio stations, curated playlists, and their personal content library, without an Apple device anywhere in or near the vehicle. Plus, passengers can view live, time-synced lyrics for whatever song is playing, the same way these usually show up on an iPhone or Apple TV.

Porsche is also so enthusiastic about Apple CarPlay and related technologies that it actually offers stylish CarPlay retrofits for its classic vehicles like the Porsche 911.

We already have Apple CarPlay, we will expand on that.Oliver Blume, Porsche CEO

It seems pretty clear from Blume’s comments that what Porsche is looking toward is even tighter integration into the Apple ecosystem. Klaus Zellmer, Porsche’s CEO for North America, has also described Apple as being a “natural fit” for Porsche, noting that both companies share very similar ideologies when it comes to design, technology, innovation, and privacy.

Porsche is also quite selective about what makes it onto the dashboard, and Apple clearly gets priority. For instance, CarPlay has been available for years, while Android Auto only showed up last summer. Likewise, Spotify wasn’t available on the Taycan until only a few weeks ago — over two years after it began offering native Apple Music support.

For now, Porsche may end up offering an in-car experience that’s as close as we’ll get to the Apple Car until 2025 or beyond, when Apple actually does release its own vehicle.

[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]

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