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The car prototype that impressed Steve Jobs

Updated Dec 19th, 2018 9:18PM EST
Steve Jobs V-Vehicle Car Prototype

It’s no secret that Apple’s Steve Jobs was interested in cars, and a new report details the car that impressed the iconic leader. Made of polypropylene and glass fiber, the car was 40% lighter than a conventional steel vehicle, and would cost 70% less to produce. Called the V-Vehicle, the car was actually brought to Jobs’ house in 2010, where he was given a detailed demo of the concept.

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Created by Bryan Thompson, the V-Vehicle is yet to be mass-produced. But Thompson was eager to show it to Jobs, who was acting as an informal advisor to the investors who backed the project. Thompson believed the car could sell for just $14,000, a significant achievement for a petroleum car.

Jobs was very taken with the overall design of the car, which featured “unpainted, upgradable body panels and a ‘space frame’ body, a design technique usually reserved for high-end cars like the Ferrari 360 or Audi’s line of cars,” The Guardian notes. And Jobs had plenty of advice for Thompson, who said he learned more about plastics in a 15-minute chat with the Apple CEO than he did in his years in design school and auto industry combined.

Above, the original V-Vehicle interior. Below, the redesign that followed the meeting with Jobs.

It’s Jobs that told Thompson to emphasize the plastic, rather than hide it. “Let the material be honest,” he said, admiring the fibre-wood dashboard. He added that it would look better as a single piece that “evoked a sense of high precision.”

He also told the designer to add surface tension to the interior, just as he did with the exterior. “A taut surface has a sense that it’s full of energy, like an animal ready to pounce. It’s a subconscious thing that gives the product an impression of high quality and confidence,” Thompson said. “He didn’t spell out the solutions; that’s what I do. But the sensibilities and feeling resonated with me deeply, and I took that moment of high energy buzz to get that sensibility into the interior.”

Jobs was also impressed with the team who came up with the concept, which lacked the corporate resources of a major car firm. The car had “soulfulness,” Jobs said.

However, Thompson never managed to make a commercial version of the V-Vehicle. The company was later renamed Next Autoworks and bought by LCV Capital Management in 2015. The company still wants to build the car in Italy, and it’s backed up by the original investors. Tony Bonidy, a former director at Jobs’ NeXT Computer, runs the company.

Apple, meanwhile, is developing its car (Project Titan), according to a variety of reports, although not much is known about the product and its future design.

The Guardian’s full story is available at the source link, and it’s worth a read.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.