Rumor: Apple’s negotiations with Daimler, BMW over an electric car deal collapsed

German carmakers Daimler and BMW have ended talks with Apple over a cooperation deal on an electric car, Handelsblatt reports, quoting unnamed “industry sources.”

The English language version of the German business daily says Apple’s plan has been to develop “a highly-networked electric car that would also be at least partially self-driving.” Neither Daimler, BMW, nor Apple would even confirm that negotiations had taken place, but Handelsblatt says the talks with both German carmakers collapsed over the key questions of who would lead the project and, above all, which company would have ownership of the data.

This Apple Car mock-up is courtesy of Bitrebels.com.

This Apple Car mock-up is courtesy of Bitrebels.com.

Apple purportedly wants the car to be closely built into its own cloud software, while the German carmakers have made customer data protection a key element of their future strategy. The talks with BMW collapsed last year, while those with Daimler collapsed more recently, the Handelsblatt’s sources said.

So what now for the “Apple Car?” German publication Frankfurter Allgemeine claims Apple may be planning to use automotive contract manufacturer Magna to manufacture the Apple Car at a plant in Austria currently used to produce Minis. The publication also says that Apple has created a “secret lab” in Berlin where it has head-hunted a small cross-disciplinary team of 15-20 upcoming engineers from a number of German car companies.

Magna is a global automotive supplier headquartered in Aurora, Ontario, Canada with 305 manufacturing operations and 93 product development, engineering and sales centers in 29 countries. The company has over 139,000 employees focused on “delivering superior value to our customers through innovative processes and World Class Manufacturing.”

Chances that the Handelsblatt report/rumor is true (IMHO): 90%. Apple is certainly working on a car project, but it’s yet to be revealed what form and strategy its automotive plans will take.