Tim Cook talks Apple Car, innovation and his thoughts on the auto industry

In a somewhat rare interview, Fortune’s Adam Lashinsky sat down with Apple CEO Tim Cook for a wide-ranging discussion that touched on a number of topics, from Apple’s floundering stock price, the proliferation of Apple Pay and the notion that we’ve reached ‘peak’ iPhone. But without question, the most interesting portion of the interview centered on Apple’s somewhat mythical Apple Car.

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As has become plainly evident over the past few months, Apple seems incredibly and genuinely interested in developing an electric car. Over the past few months, Apple has hired a number of auto executives and engineers with vast technical and business experience across all areas of the car development and manufacturing process. Notably, many of these hires have come from companies such as BMW, Tesla and other luxury automakers. Not only that, but we’ve also seen reports that Apple has a secret automotive testing facility up and running in Sunnyvale, California.

Typically, when there’s a lot of smoke there’s fire. But Tim Cook, as is to be expected, did his best to say a lot without saying anything at all when pressed for more information about Apple’s car plans.

When asked flat-out why Apple doesn’t just admit that they’re researching an electric car, Cook coyly answered:

Yeah, I’m probably not going to do that. The great thing about being here is we’re curious people. We explore technologies, and we explore products. And we’re always thinking about ways that Apple can make great products that people love, that help them in some way. And we don’t go into very many categories, as you know. We edit very much. We talk about a lot of things and do fewer. We debate many things and do a lot fewer.

Lashinsky, to his credit, didn’t simply digest Cook’s non-answer and move on. Instead he asked if Apple would really spend huge sums of money on a project (developing a car isn’t cheap, after all) if it wasn’t actually planning on commercializing it. In his next answer, Tim Cook was a tad more forthcoming.

Well, could we? Yes. But would we? We don’t have to spend large amounts to explore. So I can’t talk about this certain area that you’re talking about. But when we start spending large amounts of money, we’re committed at that point. But we explore things with teams of people. And that’s a part of being curious. Part of exploring technologies and picking the right one is becoming so familiar with it you can see ways that it can be used. And for us, we’ve never been about being first. We’ve been about being best. So we explore many different things, many different technologies. And at first we might not know what product it might wind up in. And then later we’ll see that that really cool technology enables maybe things that we’re doing today to take on something bigger, maybe something new. But once we start spending gobs of money—like when we start spending on tooling and things like that—we’re committed.

What’s more, Cook also explained that he can envision a day where manufacturers make “an automobile on a contract basis for someone else.”

Hit the source link below for Cook’s full interview. It’s not necessarily mind blowing, but given how infrequently Apple executives tend to grant public interviews (relative to other tech companies), it’s always worth seeing what they have to say when they do decide to speak up.

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