The 2020 Apple Car prototype was a glass-roofed minivan dubbed "the Bread Loaf" — Volkswagen microbus inspired a rounded design, and inside it had a 'giant TV screen' and seats like a private plane

Volkswagen ID Buzz in Orange
The Volkswagen ID Buzz, the electric successor to the iconic minivan that may have inspired Apple Car. (Image credit: Volkswagen)

A new report into the demise of the Apple Car has revealed the company tested a prototype in 2020 nicknamed “the Bread Loaf” that drew inspiration from the Volkswagen microbus.

The revelation into Apple’s failed automotive attempt comes from top insider Mark Gurman, who this week published an extensive Bloomberg report into the history of Apple Car. Most notably, the report reveals a swathe of previously unknown details about the nature of Apple Car, which has been a topic of hot speculation, concept creation, and wild imagination for over a decade. 

According to Gurman, “Apple Inc.’s top executives gathered at a former Chrysler testing track in Wittmann, Arizona” at the beginning of 2020 “to try out the latest incarnation of the car the technology giant had been trying for years to make.” But what was this Apple Car like? And how did it evolve?

Apple Car — what could have been 

According to Gurman, the 2020 prototype was “a white minivan with rounded sides, an all-glass roof, sliding doors and whitewall tires.” If that sounds familiar, it is. That’s because Gurman says the design was “inspired by the classic flower-power Volkswagen microbus.” The car, which was “designed to comfortably seat four people” was apparently dubbed “the Bread Loaf” inside Apple, but “not always affectionately.” 

The report says Apple wanted to launch the vehicle in 2025. Other notable features included “a giant TV screen, a powerful audio system and windows that adjusted their own tint.” As luxurious as any of its best iPhones, Apple Car’s 2020 iteration also had “club seating like a private plane,” with passengers “able to turn some of the seats into recliners and footrests.” 

The reason for all that horizontal luxury is that the Bread Loaf came with “Level 5 autonomy,” essentially, it was meant to be a car that could drive “entirely on its own using a revolutionary onboard computer, a new operating system and cloud software developed in-house.” Gurman says the car had no steering wheel or pedals, only a “video-game-style controller” or an iPhone app as a backup. Customers who got extra stuck could even “phone in to an Apple command center and ask to be driven remotely.” 

According to the report, a 2021 version of the project overseen by Apple Watch chief Kevin Lynch evolved into a “pod-shaped” design “with curved glass sides that doubled as gull-wing doors” and an “identical” front and back. Still very much focused on autonomy, the car’s only windows were on the sides. Wildly, the design actually sounds a lot like this Motor Trend Apple Car concept published in 2022. 

As reported last week, the Apple Car project was halted in February, dislodging some 2,000 Apple employees in the process. While some are being shifted to AI or software engineering roles, “hundreds” have been left without jobs. 

Apple's biggest contribution to motoring for the foreseeable future is likely to be the next generation of Apple CarPlay, coming to vehicles sometime this year. 

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Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9