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Steve Jobs Tinkered With the Idea of an Apple Car the Year After the iPhone Premiered

Former Apple exec Fadell: "If you look at an iPhone, it has all the same things. It even has a motor in it."

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These days Apple is thinking a ton about cars. Its iconic co-founder Steve Jobs did too, mulling whether the technology giant should build a car in 2008, a year after the iPhone debut and long before Apple’s vehicle ambitions surfaced.

Tony Fadell, chief of Alphabet’s Nest Labs and former Apple executive, told Bloomberg TV’s “Studio 1.o” that he and the late Apple founder flirted with hypotheticals about how Apple might enter the automotive business. The discussions took place at a time when the American auto industry was in turmoil and General Motors was on the verge of filing for bankruptcy.

“Yes, we did. We had a couple walks. And this was in 2008,” Fadell said of his time working with Jobs at Apple. “If we were to build a car, what would we build? What would a dashboard be? And what would this be? What would seats be? How would you fuel it or power it?”

Ultimately, Jobs decided not to move forward, Fadell told Bloomberg TV. Jobs also pondered and passed on designs for cameras and televisions.

He may have abandoned the idea because the tech needed to make cars truly smart — wireless connections and autonomy — was still far off in 2008. Mobile devices and automobiles aren’t all that different, Fadell, the co-creator of Apple’s iPod noted, echoing comments from Apple SVP Jeff Williams at the Code conference in May.

“A car has batteries, it has a computer, it has a motor and it has mechanical structure. If you look at an iPhone, it has all the same things. It even has a motor in it,” Fadell said. “But the hard stuff is really on the connectivity and how cars could be self-driving.”

Additional reporting by Mark Bergen.

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