Jean-Louis Gassée's contrarian view of the Apple Car

image via

image via

One of the newsletters that I look forward to reading each week is the Monday Note, edited by Frédéric Filloux and ex-Apple executive Jean-Louis Gassée. Not only is the Monday Note fascinating to read, but it provides a level of insight and analysis that's much more reasoned and believable than most tech blogs. That's why I refused to write anything about the much-ballyhooed Apple Car last week when many of the other Apple sites were all over the "story" until I read what Gassée had to say about it. His take? "The fantastic Apple Car is a fantasy."

Yes, I know that this goes contrary to popular opinion, but I'm in Gassée's court on this one. I don't think Apple is going to be selling a car. Sure, Apple may have "400 people" working on an auto-related project, but as Gassée points out, they could just as well be working on better CarPlay integration as well as a way to produce better "Street View"-like images for Apple's Maps.

Let's look at a quote from Gassée:

Apple’s life today is relatively simple. It sells small devices that are easily transported back to the point of sale for service if needed. No brake lines to flush, no heavy and expensive batteries and cooling systems, no overseeing the installation and maintenance of home and public chargers. And consider the trouble Tesla faces with entrenched auto dealers who oppose Tesla selling cars directly in some states. Apple doesn’t need these headaches.

So, how did the rumors about an Apple Car get started? It seemed to start when pictures of a van with cameras on top started circulating around. Word had it that this was an Apple-owned vehicle, probably set up like Google's Street View cars to capture imagery. But the rumor quickly took a life of its own, with people reporting that this was an autonomous self-driving van, and then other sites threw fuel on the fire by reporting that Apple had hired a number of auto industry engineers and executives.

Yes, they have hired some big names -- Johann Jungwirth, former president and chief executive of Mercedes-Benz Research and Development North America is foremost on the list. There's also word of engineer poaching going on between Tesla and Apple. But all of this seems to have become gospel when the Wall Street Journal reported that Apple was gearing up to challenge Tesla

To me, though, Gassée's point about Apple selling "small devices that are easily transported back to the point of sale" is key. Unless the company is planning on totally disrupting the huge worldwide auto industry with something that is so completely different that it doesn't need a maintenance infrastructure, it just doesn't make sense that it would choose to jump into a business that it doesn't know. 

I'm agreeing with Jean-Louis Gassée on this one. How about you? Leave your comments below!