Here is what we currently know about the upcoming Apple Car.
Even if competition in the market for electric vehicles is rising fast, the concept of having an Apple Car is still rather tempting. Although the firm has very little to show for it, it is no secret that the Apple Car has been in development for a while.
Apple Glasses and the Apple VR/AR headset are just a couple of the items that might be the “next big thing,” but the Apple Car is also a strong contender. Apple isn’t the only firm creating automobiles, despite the fact that it may seem strange for a computer company to do so. Sadly, it doesn’t appear like the Apple Car will be available any time soon.
However, it’s debatable if Apple actually needs the “next great thing.” Apple appears to be selling more iPhones than ever, and it will soon be releasing the Apple mixed reality headset. Despite the delays, it seems like it will come much earlier than the automobile.
The electric car market is getting a lot more competitive too, with just about every automaker throwing their weight into the growing business. Apple’s going to need a lot to stand out, though perpetually-circulating rumors that the Apple Car will be completely autonomous might be exactly what the company needs. It would be a huge deal if Apple could actually pull that off.
Details are still pretty scarce right now, and Apple is not one to comment on rumors are speculation. We know the car is in the works, in some shape or form, but that’s about it. Still, if the prospect of getting the Apple Car within a few years has plenty of people excited. If you’re one of them, and want to learn more, you’re in the right place. Here’s everything we know about the Apple Car, including leaks, rumors, and that all-important release date.
Latest Apple Car updates
- According to a recent Bloomberg story, Apple has hired Lamborghini CEO Luigi Taraborrelli to oversee the design of the Apple Car.
- Canoo, an electric vehicle company, is having financial issues, and a recent rumour indicates that Apple may decide to purchase it to work on the Apple Car.
- According to a Bloomberg story, Ford veteran Desi Ujkashevic has switched to Apple, giving Apple Car a boost.
- According to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the Apple Car development team has already been disbanded and urgent rearrangement is required if a 2025 launch is to be achieved.
Apple Car: Release date rumors
So far Apple hasn’t explicitly commented on the Apple Car and when we might be able to drive one. If you can call using an autonomous car driving, that is.
The most recent report from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman claims that Apple is gunning for a 2025 launch. Cupertino has reportedly sped up development on the project after several delays and this timeline would match some previous reports of when the Apple Car might arrive.
However this is still a fairly ambitious target, and it’s pretty likely Apple will happily delay the launch if it doesn’t meet the company’s infamously high standards.
According to recent rumours, Apple has chosen to create the Apple Car independently rather than collaborating with an established carmaker. Evidently, the business is attempting to prevent further delays that would result from working with a third party.
All of these speculations need to be treated with a certain amount of scepticism since building smartphones is much easier than making cars. Even while it’s obvious that the Apple Car won’t be one of the goods Apple unveils in 2022, things are quietly confident that we’ll see it soon.
Apple Car features
The Apple Car won’t be your typical electric car, instead it’s going to be completely autonomous and will do all the driving for you. To get around the car is going to be equipped with LiDAR sensors that will help it “see” the world around it.
Apple is no stranger to LiDAR, having included it on certain high-end iPhones and iPad Pros, and everything we’ve seen suggests it’ll be coming to the Apple Car as well.
LiDAR is short for “Light Detection and Ranging”, and the system works by sending out pulsed lasers. Those lasers will be reflected back to the car’s sensors as it hits objects, and using that information it forms a picture of what objects are in the surrounding area and how far away they are.
But LiDAR is used by almost every self-driving car out there. In fact only Tesla has sworn off LiDAR in favor of a computational vision system.
With that in mind, the Apple Car is going to need to have a fair bit of computing power behind it, and a report from analyst Colin Barnden suggests that it could all come from a “C1” chip. Per Barnden, this will be based on the iPhone XS’s A12 Bionic and will pack in AI-centric features.
MacRumors notes that this report is highly speculative, though, and it would be quite strange for the Apple Car to be powered by a chip that will be six years old in 2024. The A12 is powerful, but Apple has plenty more chips that perform even better, and it seems unlikely it would opt for such ageing hardware.
Instead Mark Gurman report that Apple will be developing its most advanced chips for use in the Apple Car. The chip is said to be mostly formed of neural processors to power all the AI algorithms the car will need if it really will drive itself.
Gurman also claims that Apple will be focusing on the interior design, since the Apple Car is supposed to be ‘hands-off’, and that includes both an infotainment system and integration with Apple’s existing suite of services.
What really sets the Apple Car apart, from what we’ve heard, is its monocell battery technology. According to reports, this maximizes the size of the cells inside the Apple Car’s battery pack, which means it theoretically gets a longer range out of a single charge.
Reports also claim Apple is also set to use lithium iron phosphate in its batteries, rather than the usual lithium-ion solution, which is less likely to overheat. That should, in turn, make the car much safer.
The initial detail of a potential design was also made public via a recent patent. Similar to Mercedes’ Magic Sky, the Apple Car may have a “variable opacity” technology that allows the driver to choose how much light enters the vehicle via the roof. The patent also states that this roof may retract as the side windows are opened, unlike Mercedes’ top which cannot.
Apple Car autonomous driving
One of the long-standing Apple Car rumors is that it would be a self-driving car of some kind. However it was never clear whether this would be limited autonomy, like the Level 2 autonomous driving systems currently on the road, or if Apple was aiming for a true self-driving car that didn’t need any human interaction.
According to a story from TheElec, Apple has teamed up with the South Korean business Outsourced Semiconductor Assembly and Test (OSAT) to create chips for the Apple Car’s driverless technology. The paper compared it to Tesla Autopilot, which is a far cry from fully automated driving, though.
But according to Mark Gurman’s Bloomberg report, Apple had been working on both systems — but recently combined the work into a single unified autonomous car.
Apparently the goal is to develop a ‘hands-off’ driving experience that wouldn’t have any ability for a human driver to control the car. A level 5 autonomous system in other words. With this in mind Cupertino has been reportedly hiring engineers to test and develop safety features that would enable such a system to be allowed on the roads.
Apple is also said to be looking for software engineers to develop “experiences for human interaction with autonomous technology,” and focus on the interior car experience. Because people need something to do when they’re not driving.
It’s not entirely clear whether this would make the Apple Car a machine you own, or an Uber-like service that you hail. previous rumors suggested it would be the former, but either way it’s going to be a big change for modern motorists.
Where’s the Apple Car being built?
Apple is, as many people know, a computing company with absolutely zero experience building and selling cars. So the prospect of it actually building the Apple Car itself is kind of laughable.
It’s more likely the actual manufacturing would be outsourced to a different company with all the relevant resources already. While there’s no shortage of automakers out there, it’s been reported that many of them are hesitant about being involved with the Apple Car.
It appears that the major corporations do not want to become “the Foxconn of the car sector,” referring to the Taiwanese firm best known for producing iPhones and other items for the corporation.
The current front-runners for Apple Car production are reportedly Canadian car parts producer Magna and Korean electronics giant LG. It’s unclear which of Magna’s production facilities would be used to construct the Apple Car because Magna has facilities all around the world.
However, it appears that Cupertino and some possible Chinese partners are at odds since Apple reportedly insisted that any battery partners produce the Apple Car’s batteries in the United States.
Earlier this year it was reported that Hyundai was the frontrunner for Apple Car, though it’s since been reported that Hyundai isn’t particularly interested in developing a car under someone else’s name. For reasons subsidiary Kia was brought on board as a replacement — with the goal reportedly being to produce the Apple Car at its plant in Georgia.
Unfortunately, as word of the proposed sale emerged, negotiations ceased, with Apple “pausing” the process and turning its attention elsewhere. Although we haven’t heard anything encouraging in the months following, there have been rumours that the Kia agreement isn’t entirely dead.
Apple and Hyundai are collaborating, according to Ming-Chi Kuo, to leverage Hyundai’s E-GMP battery electric vehicle platform. That will serve as the first chassis for the Apple Car. Additionally, it was reported that Apple was thinking of partnering with General Motors and PSA, a manufacturer of automobiles in Europe, to enable the Apple Car enter foreign markets.
None of these potential partnerships seem to have panned out. Apple is now reportedly looking to South Korean firms to provide the components for building the Apple Car, as well as the batteries. If previous reports about Apple’s U.S. manufacturing conditions are true, it’s likely the company is still looking at assembling the Apple Car in the U.S.
The most current information we have is that Apple could be contemplating buying struggling company Canoo, which plans to begin making its first electric vehicle this year. According to the article, Apple is more interested in its technical personnel than the company’s technology. However, whatever manufacturing linkages Canoo could provide would probably be beneficial.
Apple Car: What it would look like
Given where we are in the Apple Car development cycle — it’s still pretty early on — there’s not a lot of images out there to reveal what an Apple-designed car might look like. So we’ve got concept designers stepping up to fill in the gap between imagination and reality.
Designer Leasefecher came up with one of the most daring ideas we’ve seen so far and published a set of renderings that depict Apple Cars based on well-known Apple items. Our favourite proposal from Leasefetcher combines an iPhone 12 Pro with a Nissan GT-R, but there are other ideas that are inspired by the original iMac and iPod.
Vanaram has also developed a 3D model of a possible Apple Car design, which is claims is based on official Apple patents. However we have no doubt that the Apple Car will look a lot different, because this design is ugly as sin.
It even features three pedals and a large front grill, both of which would defy the many, many rumors that the Apple Car will be an all-electric vehicle.
Apple Car: Development history
The Apple car’s history dates all the way back to 2014 when it was still known as “Project Titan,” ostensibly with the intention of making it available to the general public in 2020. Of course, it never occurred, but sources appear to indicate that the Apple Car is indeed moving toward becoming a reality.
Throughout California, we have caught glimpses of a self-driving vehicle that is allegedly connected to Apple and testing the technology. We don’t have any official remarks from Apple on what these automobiles were up to since, like with everything else, the company has always kept such facts private.
What we do know for sure is that these cars weren’t the same vehicles the company used to collect data for Apple Maps.
That said, hiring engineers from the likes of Mercedes, Tesla, and other big car companies confirms Cupertino has some sort of automotive ambitions. But mass layoffs suggest that Apple Car development has not been totally smooth sailing.
According to reports, the first wave left the property in 2016, and 200 more were reportedly relocated as recently as January 2019. Although it was said that management didn’t actually know where the self-driving vehicle project was headed, it is unclear what transpires in both situations.
In early 2021, the Apple Car reportedly lost three executives, according to a Bloomberg article. Dave Scott, who oversaw the robotics teams, Jaime Waydo, who oversaw the safety and legal teams for autonomous vehicles, as well as Benjamin Lyon, who assisted in assembling the initial Apple Car team back in the day. This has been made worse by the departure of Apple Car project manager and veteran of the auto industry Doug Field to competitor automaker Ford.
A Bloomberg story claims that Apple hired Ford’s Desi Ujkashevic a few months later. Ujkashevic has worked for the carmaker for 31 years and has contributed to the design of several Ford cars, including their interiors, exteriors, chassis, and electrical systems. She most recently served as the worldwide director of vehicle safety engineering, which will be significant in the context of autonomous driving.
Considering reports claim thousands of employees have been working on the Apple Car, these layoffs and staff departures probably won’t have any serious impact on development. Of course, we don’t know for sure, and we likely never will, even if the Apple Car does arrive mid-decade.
Apple Car: What Apple has said
Apple often keeps quiet about its upcoming goods, and the Apple Car is no exception. Tim Cook, however, revealed that the auto industry has caught Apple’s attention when he made a hint about his company’s automobile intentions on Kara Swisher’s Sway podcast.
“We investigate so many things internally,” Cook said. “Many of them never see the light of day. I’m not saying that one will not.”
More encouragingly, Cook seemed to suggest that should Apple get involved with cars, it would not be content to merely design a software setup and hand it over to a car manufacturer. “We love to integrate hardware, software, and services, and find the intersection points of those because we think that’s where the magic occurs,” Cook said. “And so that’s what we love to do. And we love to own the primary technology that’s around that.”