Rumored Apple carOS could run on a central Tesla-like dashboard

Front seats in the Tesla Model 3
The Apple Car could use a dashboard similar to this Tesla Model 3 one (Image credit: Tesla)

The Apple Car is one of the longest-running rumors in technology, and we've got some new tidbits to report from people in the know: those sources say that the electric vehicle will be powered by a custom-made carOS not unlike the one used by Tesla.

This comes from DigiTimes (via, and while the name carOS isn't specifically mentioned, the prediction is that Apple is developing a software platform that can control every aspect of a car's function – from starting the engine to playing tunes from an Apple Music library.

We're imagining that this software platform would also use a large, central dashboard screen like current Tesla cars. Dashboards on Tesla motors are dominated by the display, and don't offer anything in the way of physical buttons or dials.

Developing the DCU

The same report also mentions a Domain Control Unit (DCU) for the Apple Car, which apparently handles all of the necessary data processing during driving. An unnamed Korean company is said to be working on a DCU for Apple.

If what we're hearing is right, it sounds as though the DCU and carOS would handle more or less everything that happens in the car. In other words, we're talking about something that's way beyond what you might be used to with the existing CarPlay experience – maps, music, and other audio apps.

We've not heard much in recent months about the Apple Car – indeed, some executives are reported to have left the project – but this latest article suggests that Apple is still moving forward with its plans to bring out its own electric vehicle.

Analysis: will we ever see an Apple Car?

At this stage it would be a huge surprise if Apple wasn't working on its own automobile technology – but that's still no guarantee that an actual Apple Car is ever going to launch (see also the long-running rumors around an Apple television set).

Apple chief Tim Cook has been vague about the company's plans in terms of vehicle development, but he has hinted that Apple is looking at autonomous driving software, if not an actual physical motorcar that you can drive around.

We've seen Apple launch events come and go without any mention of an Apple Car – much as we would like to see such an announcement – and it would clearly be a major move by Apple, into an area that it doesn't have a whole lot of experience in.

Making cars isn't easy, as Tesla has found out, but if any company has the resources and the know-how to pull it off, it's going to be Apple. We're still not sure if an Apple Car will appear, but if it does, it could be just as significant as the launch of the first iPhone.

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.