Gone are the days when cars were all about horsepower. Today’s car is made up of more electrical bits than mechanical ones. Companies like Tesla and Rimac have reinvented cars with futuristic technology. If rumors are believed, Apple is working on an autonomous car, alongside many products.
But is Apple actually making a car?
Apple Car rumors have been making rounds since 2015. Thanks to the sketchy rumors, Apple Car is on the verge of becoming an urban legend! Unlike other tech brands, Apple is cautious regarding product diversification.
Putting it into perspective, the Apple Car project is live and on track. Apple is developing the car under the Project Titan umbrella. The project reportedly ran into several hurdles and was close to being squashed.
Tim Cook hinted at Apple Car plans and drew a parallel with Tesla earlier this year. Furthermore, Apple has poached several veterans from the auto industry, including BMW’s Ulrich Kranz. The company is said to be testing self-driving software in and around California.
Apple Car: The story so far
In 2015 Apple was spotted testing an advanced-looking camera rig on a van. This sowed the seeds of doubt regarding the car project in people’s minds.
Soon enough, an Apple employee wrote to Business Insider confirming that they were working on a project. The email said that some Tesla employees were switching to Apple to work on Project Titan.
- 2010 – A decade ago, Steve Jobs had shown interest in a prototype car built by an Industrial designer. Perhaps, Jobs had set his eye on redefining the automobile segment.
- 2015 – The rumors about Apple Car set off with the van sighting. This is the first time people realized that the company could be working on cars. The same year Elon Musk took a dig at Apple and called Project Titan “Open Secret.”
- 2017 – Apple CEO Tim Cook publicly revealed Apple’s work on autonomous systems. He called it “a core technology that we view as very important.” Furthermore, people spotted the company testing leased vehicles with autonomous systems on public roads.
- 2021 – Earlier this year, rumors suggested that Apple is in talks with Korean automaker Hyundai and Kia Motors. It seems like Apple was upset after Hyundai revealed its deal. At this juncture, it is not clear whether talks with Hyundai will resume or not.
Interestingly people are already talking about antitrust concerns regarding Apple Car. The Project Titan has been scarred by frequent hiring and firing. It makes us wonder when Apple will unveil the self-driving.
Autonomous driving tech on Apple Car
SAE (Society of Automobile Engineers) classifies autonomous cars according to their capabilities. For instance, Tesla is a Level 2 autonomous vehicle. In other words, the driver needs to monitor the vehicle at all times and should be alert to take over.
Apple is rumored to be working on a fully-autonomous electric self-drive vehicle. The car will not require any inputs from the driver and is also expected to ditch the steering wheel and pedals. It sounds highly ambitious, and maybe this is why Apple Car is taking so much time in development. Apple is aiming to reach level 5 autonomous on its car.
This is how Apple Car could look like
There is no shortage of Apple Car concepts. As a company, Apple is fixated on functional design, and this is something we can see on every product. I presume the autonomous car will be no different.
Apple Car could look like a car straight from a sci-fi movie. The absence of steering and pedals will be a defining moment in the automobile industry. The company would adopt a minimalistic design language.
I can already imagine a giant touchscreen at the center. Since the car is fully autonomous, the touchscreen could double up as an entertainment hub. Furthermore, the automobile will be deeply integrated with the Apple ecosystem. Apple has already partnered with carmakers and announced a digital car key feature.
Most exciting Apple Car features
1. Level 5 Autonomous
The car will not require human attention at this level. The car will be designed to go anywhere similar to a human driver. Currently, Tesla, Waymo, and others are testing fully autonomous cars in various parts of the world.
2. Glass roof
Apple could make the panoramic sunroof look duh. Apple Car will reportedly arrive with a glass ceiling. It could also feature augmented reality projections.
3. Futuristic design
The self-driving car will likely feature wraparound glass. Design-wise it increases the visibility so that occupants can enjoy their surroundings without any obstructions.
4. Wraparound light bar
A concept by Motortrend envisions a light bar or strip. It runs along the car’s periphery. It could feature integrations such as turn indicators, stop lights, and a dedicated signal for pedestrians or bicycles.
5. Wireless charging on a car
Yes, you heard it right! Apple Car could feature induction charging from below. Drivers will have to park overcharging grid. The car charges automatically, similar to wireless charging on iPhones.
6. Gull Wing door
Ingress and egress on Apple Car will be very easy. It will likely feature a gull-wing door that opens to the top instead of the side. The arrangement will offer better access to seat and storage spaces.
7. Superior EV technology
Apple’s self-driving car is likely to boast a better range and power than Tesla. The car could be based on Hyundai’s E-GMP battery-electric vehicle platform. Apple Car could offer more range than Tesla.
Who will manufacture Apple Car?
It is relatively easy for Apple to get the software bit right. As mentioned earlier, Apple will outsource manufacturing to a different company. The arrangement is similar to what Apple has with Foxconn and other iPhone suppliers.
Reports claim that Apple has asked battery manufacturers to set up a unit in the US. The company was keen on Kia as it already has a plant in Georgia. End of the day, Apple will stick to outsourcing manufacturing to traditional carmakers.
When will Apple Car be released?
Now, this is a Million, perhaps even a trillion-dollar question. The Project Titan has run into multiple roadblocks. Six years have elapsed since Apple first started working on an autonomous car. A recent report says Apple will likely achieve Level 5 autonomous status by 2025. The bottom line, the Apple Car will not be released any time soon.
How much will Apple Car cost?
None of the rumors or reports talk about Apple Car pricing. Guesstimates are that the self-driving car could cost anywhere between $40,000-$50,000. Apple is known for premium products, and we feel the Apple Car will be no different.
Apple Car vs. Tesla: Will it be a Tesla killer?
Over the past years, Tesla has established itself in the EV market. The Tesla Roadster was one of the first cars to feature advanced infotainment. Apart from being an electric vehicle, Tesla scored brownie points in the design and tech features.
Apple is working on a mono cell design that uses less space inside the battery pack. The new design will allow Apple to add more active material inside the battery. It can give Apple Car a longer range. Apple is exploring new battery tech called LFP (lithium-iron-phosphate). It is much safer than lithium-ion batteries as it generates less heat.
If Apple can achieve Level 5 or even Level 4 autonomous, it could be a big blow to Tesla. I feel Apple’s brand loyalty will come in handy, and as always, people could flock to buy a new Apple Car. All said and done, Tesla has years of headstart and is mass-producing rapidly. Apple Car will have to catch up and set up mass production facilities before that.
All the things wrong with the Apple Car project
Not everything is hunky-dory with the Apple Car project. Project Titan has witnessed a major organizational shuffle. The project has been facing a lot of challenges. It has also lost key personnel to rival companies.
Rumors suggested that Apple axed Project Titan in 2016. The company allegedly took the step after internal turmoil and other looming problems. In 2019 Apple downsized Project Titan. This meant it had to let go of more than 200 employees.
Apple is reportedly finding it hard to convince traditional carmakers. Automobile companies are worried they will be labeled as Foxconn of the car industry.