The Piper Jaffray analyst says an Apple car is "closer to 10 years away than 5 years," yet a bright long-term prospect for the company.
The latest research note has arrived from Apple-watcher Gene Munster, and it’s squarely focused on the possibility that Apple AAPL will manufacture a car in some capacity.
The Piper Jaffray analyst says Apple investors “increasingly view the opportunity as a long term growth driver.” Why? Because the automotive industry has come to dominate the tech industry in recent years. (Exhibit A: The annual CES confab in Las Vegas. “CES” used to stand for “Consumer Electronics Show.” Now it might as well stand for “Car Electronics Show.”) And there’s a good reason why Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors TSLA and Travis Kalanick’s Uber continue to dominate headlines.
There have been several reports documenting progress for Apple’s so-called Project Titan. A February report in the Wall Street Journal revealed that “several hundred employees” had been allocated to the effort. A company executive called the automobile the “ultimate mobile device” three months later at an industry conference.
But Munster has a few things to say for himself about Titan. “If Apple makes a ‘car’ as we know it today, we expect it to be an electric vehicle that is likely priced in the luxury”—as in more than $50,000—”market,” he writes.
An Apple car’s three distinguishing features? “Design, connectedness, and automation,” Munster writes. “A car by Apple may look completely different than what we think of as a typical car today in terms of shape and size” and incorporate its signature products and services: from Siri and Maps to Music and Beats, and perhaps even HomeKit or augmented or virtual reality products yet realized.
As for automation, “given our expectation that a car may be at least five years away, we believe that automation will be a key competitive feature by the time Apple unveils a vehicle,” Munster writes.
All of this comes with the usual caveat: Apple often works on projects that never come to fruition. But Munster is clear that an Apple vehicle is “more poised for meaningful disruption” than any Apple TV product. So set your Apple Watches to the year 2020 and hang on tight.