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Home ยป Apple’s Derailed Car Ambitions: A Guided Tour Through 5 Fascinating Unbuilt Concepts

Apple’s Derailed Car Ambitions: A Guided Tour Through 5 Fascinating Unbuilt Concepts

Volkswagen ID Buzz

For years, rumors of an Apple-designed electric vehicle have captured the tech world’s imagination like few other moonshot projects. Those dreams were finally laid to rest when the company officially shelved its ambitious automotive plans, (The Apple Car That Never Hit the Road, An Electric, Autonomous iCar). Thanks to new insider details from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, we’re getting an unprecedented look at just how wild and futuristic the mythical “Apple Car” could have been.

In a captivating account of the project’s twists and turns, Gurman outlines a full 5 distinct vehicle design concepts that Apple workshopped over nearly a decade of R&D – each one seemingly more radical than the last. From Jony Ive’s reimagined VW Microbus to a sleek, iPad-equipped autonomous pod, let’s hit the road and explore these fascinating unbuilt automotive flights of fancy.

The OG ‘Bread Loaf’ design (circa 2014), Famed Apple designer Jony Ive was responsible for kick-starting the car project’s aesthetic vision with this retro-futuristic van concept Gurman says was internally dubbed the “Bread Loaf.” Drawing inspiration from 1950s European sedans like the classic VW Microbus, Ive’s Bread Loaf paid homage to that iconic rounded, slab-sided silhouette while blending in unmistakably Apple-esque cues. It may have looked a bit like a slick, elongated toaster on wheels, but the muse was pure mid-century modernism.

Wedge-tastic second iteration (circa 2017), Not content to stick with the boxy Bread Loaf for long, Apple’s design team soon whipped up a dramatic second draft that upgraded the front end with a more contemporary “wedge” profile. This variation kept the overall van proportions but sharpened the leading edge for a more aggressive, aerodynamic look.

VW ID Buzz predilection (circa 2017), While the wedge redesign was still in progress, some team members were already envisioning something closer to VW’s own futuristic electric van revival: the ID Buzz concept, which was revealed later that same year. As the legend goes, that wasn’t mere coincidence – a few Apple employees had joined VW around this time, bringing fresh inspiration. Either way, it highlights Apple’s broad explorations across the passenger van segment.

Canoo-esque autonomous shuttle (circa 2020), Fast forward a few years, and the Apple Car ethos seemingly did a hard pivot, morphing into an autonomous pod that drew unmistakable parallels to models from electric vehicle startup Canoo. Gurman describes it as a “futuristic van with rounded edges,” complete with blacked-out windows, a massive glass roof, whitewall tires, and an ambidextrous front/rear design optimized for Level 5 self-driving. Sounds pretty rad, if I’m being honest.

Private jet-inspired final form (circa 2021), For Apple’s automotive swan song, the team dreamed up an interior layout that could’ve been ripped straight from a Gulfstream jet. Gurman paints a vivid picture of this luxurious cabana-on-wheels: contoured “bubble” seating that could convert between chairs, recliners and footrests; an oversized center TV display and roof-mounted iPads; and even a side-wafting A/C system to mimic pressurized cabins. If anything, it’s a testament to Apple’s relentless polish and attention to detail across every last facet of the experience.

So what ultimately doomed these wildly creative concepts to the dustbin? According to Gurman’s reporting, the usual Apple Car roadblocks: shifting technical requirements and squabbles over autonomy levels, combined with gradually dimming market prospects for EVs and autonomous driving. Of course, Apple evidently concluded the overall business opportunity wasn’t worth the multi-billion dollar investment. A disappointment to be sure, but one the company could thankfully stomach.

Still, it’s hard not to lament what could’ve been in an alternate timeline where any of these concepts made the leap from CAD file to showroom. Apple’s unique brand cachet and boundary-pushing design prowess could have spawned one of the most jaw-droppingly original automobiles in generations. A shot of pure adrenaline for automotive imaginations going stale in an increasingly EV-crowded field.

But them’s the breaks – a harsh reminder that even trillion dollar tech titans face challenges when crashing unfamiliar domains. Even if we’ll never get to experience Apple’s private jet car fantasy in the real world, at least we can admire its ambition and appreciate a rare glimpse behind the tightly-sealed Cupertino curtain. Kind of makes you wonder what other fascinating wonders are being dreamed up in those sacrosanct design studios, doesn’t it?

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