Apple wants to base its electric car on the BMW i3, claims report

The rumours and reports keep piling up about Apple's not-so-secret project

For months now, we've heard all manner of reports about Apple's intentions to build its own car: everything from poaching automotive talent to details on the "Titan" project of a minivan-like electric vehicle that could also be driverless in design.

And the details keep piling up this week. Apple just hired away an auto industry veteran from Fiat Chrysler, the company's research and development expenditures are at an all-time high, and now we have a new report claiming that Apple is negotiating with BMW to use one of its vehicle designs as the basis for its own ride.

German publication Manager Magazin (via 9to5Mac) reports that Apple has been in negotiations to base its own car on the BMW i3 electric vehicle, which does sort of have a compact minivan-like appearance to it. Apple CEO Tim Cook and other executives visited the production facility in Leipzig, Germany, and they're apparently interested in the carbon fiber body.

At this point, the i3 isn't a Tesla-level technical success: it only manages about 130-160km on a full charge, after all, but it is cheaper than a Tesla. However, Apple's car is surely years away, so the tech is only going to get better - especially with Apple's money and knowhow.

This isn't the first time we've heard about negotiations with BMW: back in March, the company said it was working on connected car possibilities with Apple devices, and now you can use an Apple Watch to unlock an i3 or i8. No deal has been reached on the i3 deal; the report says negotiations began last autumn, but were broken off and recently revisited.

There's precedent here for a new company tapping an existing automaker for its debut electric car: Tesla Motors did the exact same thing with its original Roadster, which was based on the design of the Lotus Elise. That worked out pretty well for Tesla in the long run - in fact, the Roadster is being revived for 2019 with a new design - so maybe Apple has been taking notes.

[Source: Manager Magazin via 9to5Mac]