Steve Jobs
As iPod sales boomed, Steve Jobs discussed the idea of Apple producing a car REUTERS

Steve Jobs set about planning what an Apple car would be like in 2008, just a year after the original iPhone went on sale. He spoke several times with then-Apple senior executive Tony Fadell about what an Apple car could be and how it should work.

Jobs and Fadell, who is known as one of the fathers of the first iPod, discussed what type of vehicle Apple would build, what the interior would be like, and what it would be powered by. Seven years later, and four since Jobs' death, Apple is widely believed to be again exploring how to create its own car, known internally as Project Titan.

"We had a couple of walks" [to discuss the Apple car], Fadell said of Jobs and himself during an interview with Bloomberg. "This was in 2008. [We asked ourselves] if we were to build a car, what would we build?

"Just crazy stuff [like] looking at what the dashboard would be...what the seats would be. How would you fuel or power it?...the Detroit auto industry was almost dead. It was fun to kick those ideas around."

'It would be great to do a car, but we can't

But back then Apple was a fraction of the company it is today, with far fewer resources to throw at such a large project and with no other companies to learn from. The Tesla Roadster had only gone into production earlier that same year. "In the end," Fadell said, "it was always like, we're so busy, we're so constrained. It would be great to do [a car] but we can't."

Back then, there were a lot of projects which Apple said no to. "Why didn't we turn the iPod into a really great video camera? TVs were another one. At the end of the day, the one which had the biggest dramatic impact on the world was cell phones," Fadell, who is chief executive of Alphabet's Nest smart home company, said.

This is not the first time evidence of Apple wanting to make a car has come to light. In a 2012 court testimony, Apple's marketing head Phil Schiller said executives had discussed building a car in 2007, before the launch of the first iPhone. In 2012, former Apple board member Mickey Drexler said Jobs, who famously drove a Mercedes convertible with no number plates, had wanted to build a car.

'The Google car blows my mind'

Talking about self-driving cars generally, Fadell said the work being done by his Google colleagues "blows my mind every time I go over there".

Fadell, who now leads the Google Glass division, believes that the concept of on-demand, self-driving cars ordered through a smartphone app has already been sold successfully to consumers. "That's what Uber is. It's a self-driving car where there just happens to be a person driving it. As far as I'm concerned, [consumers] have already made that choice."

Rumours of an Apple car have never been far away in 2015. Since February it has been claimed that Project Titan, as development of the vehicle is known as internally, includes around 1,000 employees and has plans to launch an electric, semi-autonomous car by 2020.

Apple might be more at home building phones, tablets and computers, but Fadell doesn't think the iPhone and a car are all that different. "A car has batteries; it has a computer; it has a motor; it has mechanical structure. If you look at an iPhone, it has all the same things. It even has a motor in it...But the hard stuff is really on the connectivity and how cars could be self-driving."