Apple would be crazy to make cars, former GM chief says

Dan Akerson says Apple would find itself in a highly competitive market with low margins and high costs. He says Apple should stick to iPhones.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
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Talk of Apple entering the car market is serious enough that former General Motors CEO Dan Akerson has felt the need to offer his two cents: Don't do it!

Akerson, who left GM in 2014, told Bloomberg in an interview published Wednesday that if he were an Apple shareholder hearing news of the company considering building an electric car, he "wouldn't be very happy."

"I would be highly suspect of the long-term prospect of getting into a low-margin, heavy-manufacturing" business, he told Bloomberg.

Rumors started swirling last week that Apple is creating a team charged with designing an electric car to take on Tesla and others.

Apple has not commented, but several rumors have cropped up that Apple has hired people from the automotive industry and seems poised to make its "one more thing" an electric vehicle that may or may not drive itself.

Apple has been interested in the automotive industry for years, though only recently did CEO Tim Cook say that its iOS-based, in-car platform CarPlay is a "key to our future" at Apple.

CarPlay, which allows users to do everything from access iTunes tracks to answer messages, might simply be all that Apple is focused on. Indeed, some have speculated that Apple's recent hires in the car business are related to its desire to make CarPlay a standard in a wide range of cars.

Still, tantalizing tidbits continue to feed the idea that Apple is considering building electric cars, including news recently that Apple's top mergers-and-acquisitions executive Adrian Perica met with Tesla CEO Elon Musk to discuss a potential buyout. Musk has acknowledged holding meetings with Apple, but stopped short of saying that their discussions involved a possible acquisition. He has also noted that Tesla isn't for sale.

Akerson believes that getting into the car business presents too many issues for Apple, a company that has made billions on smartphones, music players, computers, and media sales. He told Bloomberg that building cars requires "hard-core manufacturing" and added that Apple executives don't know "what they're getting into."

"I'd rather have the margins associated with the [iPhone]," he told Bloomberg.

Apple did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment.