This article is developed from rumours and news collected from other sources.
Design and Self-Driving Capabilities
Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman in late 2021 broke the news that Apple has decided to go all-in on its car project, designing a fully autonomous vehicle. Apple is “refocusing” its car project around a self-driving vehicle that will require no interaction from the driver, a goal that other car manufacturers like Tesla have yet to achieve.
Apple was pursuing two vehicle paths. One with limited self-driving capabilities and a second with full self-driving functionality, and Apple has now decided to pursue the second path under the leadership of Kevin Lynch.
No Steeling Wheel or Pedals
Apple wants to design a vehicle that does not have a steering wheel or pedals, with an interior focused on hands-free driving. According to Bloomberg, Apple has discussed a design that would be similar to the Lifestyle Vehicle from Canoo.
Canoo Lifestyle Vehicle‘s interior
In this car, riders sit along the sides of the vehicle rather than in standard front and back seats. Apple may not be able to remove the steering wheel, however, as it could be useful to have available in an emergency situation.
Kuo has said that Apple’s initial vehicle chassis could be based on Hyundai’s E-GMP electric vehicle (BEV) platform, but it is not yet clear if that will pan out because the company may not be able to establish a partnership with Hyundai.
Apple has considered designs with a large iPad-like touch screen in the middle of the vehicle, which would not be too dissimilar from the design of Tesla vehicles. Users would be able to interact with the central panel, and it would be integrated with Apple’s current devices and services.
The processor that’s in development for the car was created by Apple’s silicon engineering group, which has also created the processors for the M1 Macs, iPhones, and other devices. Bloomberg describes this chip as the most advanced component that Apple has designed internally.
It’s said to be made up of neural processors that are able to handle the artificial intelligence requirements of autonomous driving. The chip runs out, and may need a sophisticated internal cooling system.
An EETimes analyst suggested the chip could be called the “C1” and could perhaps be based on the A12 Bionic processor.
Safety is a major focal point in the design of the Apple Car. Apple wants to create a safer vehicle than companies like Tesla or Waymo, and so engineers are building in redundancies and backup systems that will kick in to avoid driving system failures.
Removing the steering wheel of the vehicle may ultimately be impossible if Apple wants to make the vehicle as safe as possible for drivers.
Charging and Battery
The Apple Car could be compatible with the Combined Charging System, a standard used for charging electric vehicles. Companies like Tesla, BMW, Ford, General Motors, Kia, Hyundai, and others all support the CCS, and adopting the same standard would allow Apple Car owners to use charging stations that are already available.
Apple is developing a new battery design that has the potential to “radically” reduce the cost of batteries and increase the vehicle’s range. Apple is creating a “monocell” design that will bulk up the individual battery cells and free up space inside the battery pack by removing pouches and modules that hold battery materials. This will allow for more active material in a smaller package. The battery technology has been described as “next level” and similar to “the first time you saw the iPhone.”
Apple has held talks with four suppliers of LiDAR sensors that are smaller, more affordable, and more easily mass produced than current LiDAR systems, which are too bulky and expensive for use in mass produced vehicles. Apple is aiming for a “revolutionary design” that could potentially be used in a future autonomous vehicle.
The Apple Car is likely to be marketed as a “very high-end” model or “significantly higher” than a standard electric vehicle.
Perhaps Apple’s worst kept secret, the “Apple Car” is being developed for a 2024 or later release. Rumors speculate that it will be a fully-featured self-driving electric vehicle that will compete with Tesla and other EVs. Apple could partner with other popular manufacturers like Hyundai or BMW, or seek another option.
● Apple-designed electric car
● Known as “Project Titan”
● Electric Vehicle
● AI specific features with Siri
● Acquired Drive.AI in 2019
● Car launch expected in 2024 to 2028
Rumors have long suggested that Apple is actively working on various automotive projects that could ultimately lead to an “Apple Car.” The entirety of the research falls under the catch-all title “Project Titan.”
The term has been used to describe several different elements and technologies but falls into two broad categories: self-driving vehicle systems and car design.
The “Apple Car” has gone through multiple rumor cycles since its life began as a not-so-secret project called “Project Titan.” In 2015 the car would be a competitor with Tesla with smart components like Siri and deep integrations with iPhone. Later it devolved into a specialized infotainment system Apple could sell to distributors like BMW.
The rumors then came full circle and have arrived at a fully autonomous vehicle that requires little to no human intervention while driving. According to multiple reputable sources, reports in late 2021 indicate that Apple could officially announce the car project in 2022 and launch it by 2025.
“Apple Car” Design
Initially, “Project Titan” was rumored to involve an electric vehicle dubbed “Apple Car,” delivered by 2019 or 2020. Towards the end of 2015, however, the program experienced “an incredible failure of leadership,” according to one source, in which managers fought over where Titan was going. This led to the departure of project leader Steve Zadesky.
The design and technology behind “Project Titan” remained very much in flux, sources said, with Apple at one point considering using BMW’s i3 as the basis for its “Apple Car.” Apple and BMW have held talks about a potential partnership, though both BMW and Daimler reportedly ended talks with Apple over who might lead the project and own data.
One German report indicated that Apple had a secret car lab in Berlin, staffed by about 15 to 20 “top-class” people from the German auto industry working on issues like “Apple Car” concepts, manufacturing partnerships, and sales/governmental obstacles. A possible manufacturer is the Austrian division of Magna Steyr.
In May 2016, Mansfield was said to have announced the new Titan strategy “in a Silicon Valley auditorium packed with hundreds of Titan employees,” explaining that after an evaluation, he decided Apple shouldn’t compete directly with Tesla, which already has several electric cars on the market and is working steadily towards full self-driving systems.
The original vision of an “Apple Car” that would detect its driver via fingerprint and then drive them anywhere had transitioned from a partially autonomous car to something more ambitious. However, another factor that may have pulled Apple away from its car is the automotive supply chain. While Apple is used to being able to exert heavy control over suppliers for devices like the iPhone, the company may have discovered that auto parts makers would be less eager to commit to an “Apple Car,” given the deeper expenses involved, and Apple is likely producing vehicles in small initial numbers.
Meanwhile, the company is said to be developing charging infrastructure by hiring engineers and talking technology with firms that supply charging stations. An unknown engineering and construction firm allegedly approached Apple about offering services.
A July 2017 report claimed Apple is working with Chinese firm Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL) to research and develop new batteries for automobiles. Few details about the confidentiality agreement were reported, with CATL officially refusing to comment.
Unlike the self-driving element, which is naturally in the public eye, the design efforts of Apple have been kept under wraps for the most part. Aside from rumors, which have even suggested Apple is creating an electric van, the only real indications so far of Apple’s design direction have been patent applications.
Based on patent filings, rumors, and speculation, the general appearance of the vehicle could offer some departures from current vehicle design.
Apple’s use of sleek lines in other products could be reused in the “Apple Car,” as well as wide-swinging doors that eliminate the need for a permanent center door pillar, making openings even larger. Proposals include the use of AR and VR technology, in-screen displays, privacy lighting, and unique sunroof designs, among other suggestions.
The introduction of self-driving systems could further inform the vehicle’s design and result in more radical layouts, as there would be less of a need for conventional seating arrangements.
“Apple Car” Release Speculation
If Apple intends to actually ship an “Apple Car,” there may be a few more years to wait until it is unveiled to the public for the first time.
Reports from 2016 suggested Apple was aiming for a 2020 rollout, but issues forced a delay into 2021, such as the departure of project leader Steve Zadesky.
It was also unclear whether Apple’s first attempt at a car would include some level of self-driving capability. However, the reporting was just before Apple started its efforts to test the system on public roads.
Noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo proposed in August 2018 that Apple would create a shipping consumer product under “Project Titan” by as early as 2023, with the “Apple Car” launch window stretching as far as into 2025. There was no indication of how Kuo determined the dates, but he wrote he expects Apple to take advantage of tectonic shifts in the automotive market.
By leveraging “potentially huge” replacement demands emerging in the sector due to the introduction of new technologies, Kuo believes Apple can take advantage of a car market that is ripe for change, in a similar way to how the smartphone market existed before the iPhone.
The analyst also suggests the vehicle project could help propel Apple towards a $2 trillion valuation.
Reports in late 2020 indicate Apple may be ahead of schedule and a product may be ready by 2024. It could feature a radical new battery design that would reduce cost and extend driving range.
Ming-Chi Kuo has stated that a release is unlikely before 2025, that most rumors about a launch prior to that have been “overhyped.” Given that there have been no manufacturers selected, TF Securities estimates that if “everything goes well” a launch between 2025 and 2027 is likely.
Hyundai has confirmed that Apple has approached it and other companies about producing the Apple Car. Such advanced talks are normal and indicate Apple is ready to begin production in the coming months. The same report indicates that despite starting production, the car will not be ready to launch for years yet — 2024 at the earliest, though 2027 seems to be more realistic.
To keep from diluting the Hyundai brand, it may assign subsidiary Kia to manufacture the Apple Car. Kia’s plant in Georgia would be a primary location.
Hyundai later revealed that the discussions with Apple had ended before February 2021. Nissan has since approached Apple with interest in manufacturing the Apple car.
Apple is expected to build a “beta” version of the “Apple Car” by 2022 then order 100,000 for production in 2024. Rumors point to Japan for initial manufacturing, even with global part shortages Apple is still targeting 2024.
“Apple Car” features and testing
Kept under the “Project Titan” name due to its closeness to the original car-design concept, Apple’s work on self-driving vehicle systems has been the most prominent element of the entire scheme.
Unlike the designs, which are brought up in patent filings and rumors, it is actively known Apple has developed and tested a self-driving system, one that has appeared in public filings with government regulators, and has even been spotted on public roads.
PERMITS AND LEGALITIES
In an early public admission of its automotive ambitions, Apple, in a statement issued to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in November 2016, proposed a policy update that would grant industry newcomers the same opportunities as established manufacturers when it comes to testing on public roads.
Then-director of product integrity at Apple Steve Kenner said the Federal Automated Vehicles Policy paved a safe and flexible path toward the development of automated vehicles, but suggested proposed regulations could be more open for companies new to the industry.