Will historians will likely look back upon Apple and its designers the way we look back upon Edison or Bell? The technology of the 20th century was inspired and shaped by the creations of just a few inventors, while it could be argued that much of the tech of today owes itself in many ways to Apple. The innovations of the Macbook, the iPhone, and the iPad influenced all of the similar products on the market. Sure, they weren’t necessarily always the first or the best, but Apple designers imbued their technology with such levels of aesthetic detail and simplicity to make their products seem straight out of our own imagination. That style of almost retrofuturist simplicity merged has inspired artists and designers of all kinds, including in the auto world. This week, the lead designer for global automaker Volkswagen said he’s looking to Apple for inspiration for the next line of VW vehicles. What could this spell for the future of VW?
Klaus Bischoff said he’s looking specifically at Apple products “for guidance on how to style its new generation of electric cars,” reports Reuters:
We are currently redefining the Volkswagen values for the age of electrification. What’s at stake is to be as significant, purist and clear as possible and also to visualize a completely new architecture.
Volkswagen suffered a major blow in recent years when it was caught falsifying emissions tests. The global automaker also faces stiffer environmental regulations in its Chinese and European markets, forcing it to overhaul its production methods. In order to face these challenges and remake its image and brand, VW is aggressively pursuing the global electrics market with a $42.45 billion investment over the next four years in order to carve out a new niche for itself.
Seeing these two companies’ names together in a headline makes you wonder: when will companies like Apple and Google begin integrating their self-driving products with automakers? Some of the biggest names in computing and internet services are leading the way in developing fleets of autonomous vehicles. Automakers like VW could easily soon start looking to team up with an existing self-driving developer to produce a fully-featured autonomous vehicle without having to develop their own software, while the developer wouldn’t have to build a car from the ground up. It’s bound to happen, right?
Think about it: could a VW iCar be on the way? Or is it already a matter of ‘when?’ Think of the product integration. Siri would literally drive your car for you. iTunes and the App Store right in your dashboard. Oh, and planned obselescence built right into the car’s hardware. Those old iCar 5’s just can’t handle the new OS X 40.4 Moth-Flies-Out-of-Wallet. It’s those background processes that get you.