Apple reportedly working with Volkswagen to produce all-electric, driverless T6 Transporter vans
Years after rumours of an Apple Car first surfaced, a report from the New York Times claims the company is teaming up with Volkswagen to produce all-electric driverless shuttle buses.
According to the report, Apple will be turning the company’s famous T6 Transporter vans into driverless shuttles that will transport employees between its campuses in Silicon Valley. The vehicles will have a safety driver behind the wheel, the sources continue, and there’ll also be an operator in the van’s passenger seat tracking its performance.
Crucially, Volkswagen was not Apple’s first choice. Partnerships with BMW and Mercedes-Benz to build a self-driving vehicle reportedly fell through following years of negotiations thanks to Apple’s demands for control over the vehicle’s design and data.
Apple met with Nissan, BYD Auto (in China) and even McLaren, among others, during this time, according to one former employee. However, a deal was never agreed either because “the automaker was reluctant to give up control” or “Apple was holding out for a more attractive partner”.
Lagging behind rivals in terms of autonomous vehicle development, Volkswagen allegedly “jumped at the chance” to work with Apple. The all-electric autonomous T6 vans will be developed at a Volkswagen subsidiary called Italdesign, in Turin, Italy, the report claims. While the vehicles’ chassis and wheels will remain original, Apple is changing the dashboard and seats, and adding a computer, sensors and a large electric car battery.
Although the shuttle was initially pencilled to be completed by the end of the year, one employee has suggested that this deadline will be missed. It’s not clear if Apple’s partnership with Volkwagen will extend beyond the shuttle, and Apple declined to comment on the project when approached by the NY Times.