Gene Munster is the co-founder of Loup Ventures and during a recent interview with CNET, he said he believed that Tesla’s main rival is actually Apple, not traditional automakers. And while Apple’s software expertise may give it an edge over OEMs in this respect, it is still just a tech giant with zero experience when it comes to building cars.
Munster has been following both Apple and Tesla for a long time and is quite familiar with both their business models. In fact, the source CNET article calls Tesla Apple’s ‘ automotive doppelganger, which is certainly not an exaggeration if you take into account that even though Tesla does build cars, it’s run more like a tech company than an automaker.
He told CNET’s Brian Cooley in the interview that
I think it's important to make a distinction between when Apple works on something compared to when it sees the light of day. It's very clear Apple has ambitions to build a car. It was not clear six months ago.
Munster also answered Cooley’s question about the motives behind Apple’s desire to get into the car business (one of the most brutal and hard to get into industrial sectors) by saying
The addressable market. It's orders of magnitude larger than anything Apple's gone after before. What keeps tech companies awake at night is growth. I think Apple is the biggest competitive risk that Tesla [will] face. We don't have a signed deal with any automaker, but that does not change this direction that Apple is going.
In other words, even with the recent deal with Hyundai-Kia falling through, Apple still has clear ambitions to enter the automotive segment one way or another, although everybody seems to unanimously agree it needs a partner with experience in developing and building cars. The latest rumor is that Renault is now interested in partnering up with Apple - we'll have to wait and see how this pans out.