What is the ugliest BMW? Correct. The BMW i3 electric car. A new report over the weekend in the German newspaper Süddeutsche says that Apple fell in love with exactly that ugly duckling. Earlier this month BMW denied a report that Apple and BMW are discussing a cooperation on building a car. The Süddeutsche report says that last autumn the complete BMW board visited Apple in Cupertino and the Apple board came to Munich early 2015.
If true than it is clear that the companies talked more than just about Apple CarPlay and Apple Watch. You do not need the board for such integrations. The Süddeutsche Zeitung is located in Munich, which is also the location of the BMW headquarters. The outlet should therefore be rather well connected into BMW and the report should carry some merit.
The author of the report thinks that BMW and Apple would rework the i3 into an electric car that can be efficiently mass produced. The pair would involve Austrian Magna to make the redesign i3 with a flexible material mix to achieve a 200,000 units per year production volume.
The crux with reports about Apple needing a partner for developing a car is, why could Tesla Motors do it without a partner? Tesla jump started their first vehicle with a Lotus Elise platform, but completely reworked the car as an EV has completely different requirements.
In a 2008 post on the Tesla site the company said that only 7% of the Lotus Elise parts can be found in the Tesla Roadster. The current Model S car is an in-house design. The Tesla Model S P85D kills a Porsche 911 4S at the traffic light with a 3.2s from 0-60mph. The 4-door sedan is able to bring that power to the road. If Tesla can do that, Apple can. It will take time, but Apple would have full control over the product.
Apple needs this control to make something revolutionary on their own terms. The company also needs to be able to define their margins. The car industry works on super slim margins. This is not something Apple is used too.
We assume that the Apple and BMW discussions are a way for Apple to gather information to plan their iCar project that will be a decade in the making. There is no rush as the electric car market is going to grow slowly.