The CEO of Fiat Chrysler made a recent trip to Silicon Valley that included a ride in Google’s self-driving car as well as a meeting with Tim Cook to talk about Apple’s automotive ambitions.
Sergio Marchionne, Fiat’s chief executive, spoke Saturday at the opening of a Maserati dealership near Toronto, Canada, and said he had recently met with both Apple and Tesla to talk about the future of cars — and found out more about what Apple’s planning.
Marchionne told the crowd that Cook is “interested in Apple’s intervention in the car, that’s his role.”
It’s the latest hint that Apple is seeking to shake up the automotive industry with some sort of futuristic transportation solution. Cupertino already has designers with a keen interest in cars and has been hiring new employees with expertise in batteries. Apple has also been competing with Tesla for talent.
Marchionne didn’t divulge further details about Apple’s plans, but reports have claimed Apple’s plans for the car extend far beyond CarPlay. Apple has reportedly assembled a team of more than 1,000 people to work on the car project, with the aim of rolling a self-driving electric car onto highways by 2020.
What form an Apple Car might take remains a closely guarded secret. For now, the CarPlay platform — which Apple calls “a smarter, safer way to use your iPhone in the car” — is all we know for sure about Cupertino’s automotive ambitions.
While other manufacturers like Ford have been slow to embrace CarPlay, Fiat Chrysler was among the first automakers to announce support for Apple’s infotainment system. Ferrari, which is owned by Fiat Chrysler, was the first car manufacturer to add CarPlay and the two companies share a connection through Apple VP Eddy Cue, who sits on Ferrari’s board of directors.