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Apple's car may be many years away - but automotive tech is already solid
Jude ConnorSiga @connorjewiss
Apple products are usually small enough to fit in a pocket, on your wrist, in a purse, or at worst, on a table. But the company's next big thing could be really huge -- a car. Well, supposedly.
Rumors about Apple cars have been swirling around for yearsSteve Jobs is even considering building onein 2008. Things picked up incredible momentum in 2015, as major publications broke details about Apple's supposed power generation plans, and maybe even somedayautonomous cars. So it's been quiet for a while, but thanks to Apple's commitment to its CarPlay software, reports are pouring in again.
Want to keep up to date with everything Apple Car has to offer? Here are the key details we've heard about the Apple Car, followed by all the stories that have surfaced on the subject over the past few years.
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A work in progress: What we know about the development so far
We'll get the latest news out of the way first.As Bloomberg reportsApple has reduced its plans for a self-driving car to 2026 at the earliest. The company also intends to keep it below $100,000.
We've heard rumors of an Apple Car from many different reports since early 2015. Although the details have changed, we know for sure that Apple is working on some kind of car. Codenamed Project Titan, the vehicle is likely aelectric car. And it could be a self-driving car - although later reports suggest the goal of becoming self-driving is a distant goal.
And in an interview in 2021, Tim Cook confirmed the existence of the Apple Car project. If Apple's CEO has mentioned it publicly, we know it's a safe bet. Whatever the outcome, if Apple is indeed working on a car of its own, it's obviously big news.
In July 2022,Mark Gurman, von Bloombergrevealed that Apple had hired former Lamborghini driving dynamics expert Luigi Taraborrelli. The 20-year Lambo veteran has worked on some of the Italian company's most iconic modern supercars, including the Aventador and Urus SUV. He now appears ready to transfer those skills to Cupertino.
Apple's automotive team was further strengthened with the addition of Gregory Baratoff in September 2022 as lead of Sense architecture. Baratoff spent several years at Hyundai, most recently as vice president of the Autonomous Vehicles Laboratory, and almost four years at manufacturer Continental as head of camera sensor development. At Continental, he led the development of the company's world computer vision and camera sensor architecture.
Also a SeptemberchirpApple-focused analyst Ming-Chi Kuo stated that "Apple will likely build the new Apple Car Design team before the end of 2022." In addition, of course, there is the small matter of official approval and testing, which can delay everything by several years.
Another indication that Apple is continuing to work on its automotive project is theApplication for a patentfor "a vehicle video system to support navigation". Apparently you can choose a stopping point based on camera feeds around the car, rather than a general zip or zip code and 2D map. For example, enter a shopping center and you can specify a parking space for the car to enter. Provided, of course, that the Apple Car comes with fully autonomous functions. Apple also filed a patent for something called "adaptively positioned ports." Translated, this describes a smarter version of the sliding door, but whether it will eventually appear on Apple's car is unconfirmed.
Titan is not a favorite project. In September 2015 theWall Street Journalreported that Apple would triple the size of its car team. At this point it already consisted of about 600 people. Since then, Apple has continued to expand its auto team by hiring employees from other automakers such as:Tesla,Ford,BMW, and more. It's a lot of talented people working on something big.
In 2015, reports claimed Apple was in talks with BMW to build the Apple Car based on BMWBMW i3. EV fans will remember how similar this is to thisTesla Roadster-Initialebased on the Lotus Elise. However, this deal is said to have failed because Apple did not want to give up control of the software.
Therefore, the company may be considering another route. Reports in September 2016 claimed Apple was in talks to acquire McLaren and use its considerable design prowess to build a car for a certainly less affluent audience.
Since then, Apple has been in negotiations withVolkswagen,Hyundai, Lucid Motors and Canoo, early 2022. Any potential partnership between the tech giant and an automaker appears to have fizzled out. For now, it looks like Apple is without an automotive partner.
Is there good news? A report fromKorea Times2021 showed thatLGand Apple were in talks about EV components. There hasn't been any word on the collaboration yet, so we're assuming this isn't official. Apple also holds a California DMV license to test self-driving cars in the state and has pushed for exemptions from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to allow a car without a steering wheel or brake pedal.
More recently. According to The Information's Wayne Ma, Apple is apparently targeting four inward-facing seats with a curved roof and a trunk that can be raised for easy access to the contents.
On-board technology: possible functions for Apple's vehicle
May 2021,Mark Gurman, von Bloombergdetailed Apple's potential plans for the car. According to the report, Apple is working flat out on a self-driving car that doesn't require driver interaction. Apparently, the plan is for the car to come without a steering wheel and pedals. While that sounds pretty wild, it's been done before. Gurman compared the ambitious plan to Canoo's driverless technology.
While it sounds cool to drop the steering wheel and pedals, it could be a roadblock for Apple (pardon the pun). Lawmakers are advocates for vehicle safety, so they can't green light a car without these hand controls. A steering wheel and pedals may be required as a result of emergencies.
Apple's demo of2023 CarPlay-UpdateNOWWDC in 2022it gave us the best insight yet into Apple's infotainment system plans. In the new version of CarPlay, Apple's designs are distributed across all screens in the car. The Apple Car would likely feature a similar version of the operating system, but without the need for a connected iPhone.
The latest rumors suggest that Apple's CarPlay push will replace the company's need to launch a car: the interface wants to fully take over the infotainment and digital dashboard of any car it boots into, and even the speedometer and information such as electric drive or engine replace oil temperature. Over time, it could allow you to pay for gas directly from the car without having to go to the checkout or insert a credit card at the pump. Dallas-based HF Sinclair will be the first to accept these payments when the new version of CarPlay launches alongside iOS 16 later this year.
As for the battery, Apple is developing its own battery technology to improve performance by miles. This isn't so good for the more impatient of us as it means we can't predict how good it will be. But that means we're likely to see a battery with better range and charging. As for the charger, the Apple Car will most likely support the standard combined charging system.
Other than that, we don't know much more about the Apple Car.
Just around the corner: possible release dates (well... years) for the Apple Car
A 2015 report said Apple wanted the car to be "ready to ship" in 2019. But it wasn't clear if that meant just finalizing the design or literally handing it off to consumers. A later report says a 2021 debut is much more likely as Apple has coped with bumps and team changes along the way. Building a car from scratch isn't easy, and Apple will certainly want to get it right before they show anyone anything.
Im August 2018,Ming-Chi Kuosuggested that the Apple Car will launch sometime in the 2023-2025 window - meaning it'll be a few more years away. In 2021, Apple analyst Mark Gurman still thinks 2025 is a realistic year for the car's announcement.
Nothing too expensive: Price rumors about the Apple Car
We all know the so-called “Apple tax”, right? Well, that's probably not the case with the Apple Car. Technology analysts from Jefferies & Co estimated in 2015 that the car could fetch around $55,000 when it launched. That's about the price of a base Model 3 at $46,000, but cheaper than the base Model S at $95,000.
However, if it does not arrive within 10 years of this report, the price may change. Given current events, there's every reason to think it might cost a little more.
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