Toyota warns Apple Car includes decades-long commitment

Apple’s long-rumored and expected entry into the automotive industry has been met with excitement from potential partners as well as disinterest from potential rivals. While there’s still ongoing speculation about who will be making the Apple electric vehicle, whether it’s still Hyundai or just Kia this time, other carmakers have claimed not at all to be affected by all the media circus around the Apple Car. In fact, Toyota seems to be casting some doubt on Apple’s capability to be in this business for the long haul.

At least compared to other smartphone makers, Apple has a better record when it comes to supporting its devices over the years. iPhones and iPads four or five generations back still get updates, for example. Apple’s warranty programs and customer service are also often praised by the company’s customers.

Toyota Motors Corp. President Akio Toyoda, however, warns Apple that it should be ready to go even beyond that. Unlike consumer electronics, cars are made and sold to last for years, decades even, and customers expect companies to support those for just as long. In fact, Toyoda gave a 40-year figure for customer support, maintenance, and repairs as a standard for the automotive business.

Anyone can make a car, Toyoda said, if they have the technical ability but that’s not the only thing needed for a successful commercial EV. While Toyota is open to newer, younger, and more technologically-oriented competitors, he warns them not to presume they won’t need to offer the same long-term support that older car makers have been doing for years.

It does sound like a daunting business aspect, even for the likes of Apple. Of course, Apple won’t be making the car on its own and will most likely direct its direction alongside a more established automobile manufacturer. That said, even with that partnership, Apple will still have to commit itself to a longer period of support for the parts that will become essential defining features of what would become an Apple Car.

Katherine E. Ackerman

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