It’s no secret that car companies routinely buy (and tear apart) each other’s vehicles on a regular basis, either to gain intel or just for the sick pleasure of wanton destruction. So if Apple has two brand-new Model Xs sitting outside a building that’s been linked to its self-driving car division, that means Apple’s building a Model X competitor, right? Not so fast.
The Model Xs were spotted by a Business Insider reporter parked on the street outside of a facility that’s been linked to Apple’s self-driving car efforts, codenamed Project Titan. The cars were both sporting dealer plates, so clearly recently delivered (and less likely to be property of Apple engineers, or just people living on the street).
The most obvious rumor, and the one that will get Apple fanboys frothing at the mouth, is that Apple’s building a Model X competitor. The cars are presumably there so that Apple can examine the competition and see the standard they need to reach.
An Apple SUV would make sense. It’s a high-end enough car for a company like Apple to make, but practical enough to be the one car to shuttle around an entire family. Tesla’s the only name in town for a semi-autonomous, all-electric SUV, so of course the Apple SUV team would start there.
But there’s all kinds of other options. Apple’s self-driving car project is rumored to be more about software, and less about building an actual car. So the Model X, with its pre-existing suite of sensors and full drive-by-wire technology would be a good vehicle for Apple to start tinkering with, to try its software package in the real world.
It could be something else entirely, of course. We don’t know for sure that the Apple facility in question is really focused on self-driving cars. It could just as easily be something to do with CarPlay, Apple’s attempt to put Apple software into the infotainment system of regular cars. The Model Xs could be delivered as part of a collaboration between Tesla and Apple to put CarPlay into Tesla’s vehicles, which is very sensible, but also a lot more boring than an Apple-made autonomous SUV. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.