The auto industry works very different than other industries. Most people, including Tim Cook, don’t have a true grasp of it.
When Fortune questioned Apple CEO concerning building cars on a contract basis, he replied:
“I don’t think that there’s a fundamental reason why that couldn’t be done . . . I think it does exist today, but I don’t think it’s the model for the [auto] industry.”
Cars are constructed of components from a myriad of suppliers. Each part comes from a different facility and may have its own timeline. The possibility of problems, hold ups, schedule or contract changes, among many other issues, is expected. It becomes a waiting game for the auto company that is often only dealing with the final assembly. This is especially true in a company new to the industry, that is still working out all of the details. Tesla’s “timeline” is a perfect example.
Cook may have more knowledge than a quick interview can reveal, but obviously, there is a lack of common comprehension on how the industry must work. Auto companies, by force, move meticulously and with great caution. A tech mistake on an iPhone surely would prove much less monumental than that of a vehicle. To Apple’s benefit, however, the company does have experience in outsourcing. Products like the iPhone are built in much the same way as a car, via multiple suppliers.
It seems that Apple may be well aware of its shortcomings as it is looking to many other big names in the industry for ideas and support. Tim Cook hasn’t hesitated to continue to hire “automotive experts”.