Do you ever watch TV shows and predict the endings? I do it all the time. Much to my wife’s displeasure, I’m always pointing out ‘whodunit’, or how a storyline is about to unfold.
Sometimes she’ll just say to me, ‘You should have been a detective or movie critic…I can’t decide. But please shut up.’
For example (huge spoiler alert here), we have been binge-watching our way through Netflix’s [NASDAQ:NFLX] hit series, Stranger Things. (Spoiler alert!)
About halfway through I said to my wife, ‘I bet Elle is the only way the Demogorgon can be killed. Actually if the monster is really in a parallel world, then perhaps she’s the real world equivalent of the monster.’
If you are watching Stranger Things, I’m sorry for that. If you’ve already seen it, then you can see I was pretty much right.
Anyway, my point isn’t to go into the plot details of Stranger Things here. My point is that predicting the future isn’t as hard as it seems.
You can apply the skill of prediction in the real world. You just have to keep an open mind. Keep up to date with all kinds of information. Then look for connections, intersections and a whole heap of coincidences in one place.
A future two years in the making
Two years ago on a windy August day I made the trek out to Donington Park racetrack. Donington is a permanent racing circuit in the midlands of England.
The reason for my visit was for first round of testing of a brand new racing series, Formula E. I’d been following the development of this new racing series since its announcement a year before.
Here I was at the official live testing of a new, all-electric racing series. These cars are pure-electric versions of Formula One cars. They’re high-speed, high-tech and highly exciting.
Source: Sam Volkering
[Click to enlarge]
I was able to do a bit of pit lane investigation. Some of the companies involved in this tech included Qualcomm [NASDAQ:QCOM], Williams Advanced Engineering, Michelin, Dallara, Renault and McLaren Electronic Systems.
The series is about to kick off its third season. In the last two seasons they’ve been racing on the streets of iconic cities. Some of the races include Paris, London, Beijing, Moscow, Monte Carlo and Miami. This year they’ll also race in New York.
But in the two short years since the debut season, a lot has been going on in the development of the cars. And it’s attracting some serious auto industry players.
Some of the competing car manufacturers now include Citroen, Venturi, Renault, Mahindra, and the recently announced addition, Jaguar.
Worth noting is another team is Faraday Future Dragon Racing. I’ll get back to why this is important in a minute, but don’t forget that name…
Major car companies are now competing in Formula E, much in the same way carmakers compete in Formula One. Some of F1’s top teams include Mercedes Benz, Ferrari, McLaren, Renault and Aston Martin (through its association with Red Bull Racing).
Those companies work in F1 partly to advance development of their in house car tech. The same thing is happening in Formula E.
However, there’s something I think is secretly going on in Formula E which might help us to predict the future.
Just put the pieces together
The FIA had previously sent out a tender for the exclusive supply of batteries to Formula E in 2018. The deal will cover the battery technology for the 2018–19 and 2019–20 seasons.
The winner of the tender was McLaren Applied Technologies. They beat Porsche, Red Bull Technology, Renault and Williams Advanced Engineering for it.
This is significant. The first question, though, is: Why did McLaren want this tender? Well, it’s to advance the tech of their electric power systems.
McLaren confirmed in July they are developing range topping, all electric cars. It makes sense then to advance and display this technology through Formula E.
Here’s where things get really interesting. The Financial Times recently reported that Apple [NASDAQ:AAPL] was considering buying a strategic stake in McLaren.
That initially seems crazy. McLaren only makes around 1,700 cars per year. But it’s not their manufacturing expertise I think Apple could be after. I think it’s their power expertise.
Another rumour is Faraday Future has close ties to Apple. Faraday is currently developing ‘Tesla beating’ electric cars. And many of their recent recruits are said to have come from Apple’s ‘Project Titan’.
There are even suggestions Faraday is a ‘front’ for Apple’s ‘Project Titan’.
Let’s put these pieces together.
- Faraday Future has a team in Formula E;
- McLaren Applied Technologies are suppling new electric battery tech to Formula E in 2018;
- Apple allegedly looking at a strategic stake in McLaren;
- The rumoured link between Apple and Faraday Future.
I’m not a huge believer in that many coincidences. And it doesn’t take a lot to get to the end conclusion.
So what is my conclusion?
Apple will build a car in the next few years. I’d expect it to be available to market within the next three years.
I’d expect it to be all-electric. I’d suggest McLaren would develop the powertrain. And I’d suggest mass manufacturing would be by Faraday Future. Of course, the in-car tech would be entirely Apple-made.
Another option is for Apple to just buy them both. Bring it all together under one roof. Simple.
What it means is that Apple might be slowing with consumer tech sales. But they might also see a whole new opportunity as a new generation carmaker. And if they can nail it, it could actually take them well past a US$1 trillion market cap.
For The Daily Reckoning