The long-dead Apple car may have been resurrected. Reuters reports that Apple is planning to start production of its own line of electric cars with pioneering battery technology in 2024. Apple did not confirm the report, but investors took the news seriously enough to take the company’s already volatile shares. Tesla to a fall.
Apple has been trying to get a car project underway for years, with little public success so far – which makes the prospect of actually producing its own car in 2024 not quite right. That said, building a new line of cars is a daunting process that will always take time, especially if the company behind it is hoping to incorporate new technologies into the project. Apple, being Apple, will almost certainly want to do that. The company has always been interested in doing its own thing, from its operating system to, more recently, its M1 chips.
In addition, it is Apple, one of the richest and most innovative companies in the world. Never exclude Apple.
We first learned of a possible Apple car in early 2015, when the Wall Street Journal reported that the company was trying to build a Tesla competitor. The project, dubbed “Titan”, was approved by CEO Tim Cook about a year earlier, the newspaper said. But Apple’s car plans may be much earlier: founder Steve Jobs allegedly considered building a car in 2008. The plan then was to build an electric car instead of creating an autonomous one, which is what Google and Uber were trying to do. do at the moment. Although it took a considerable amount of time and money to actually put a car on the road, Apple had a lot of both, according to the report. About 1,000 people are said to be working on the project. Apple declined to comment on the story.
By the end of 2016, however, it looked like Apple had moved from making its own cars to making autonomous driving technology that would be used in cars from other manufacturers, and hundreds of people left the project. Even so, it apparently had already produced some results: The New York Times reported that Apple had a “number of fully autonomous vehicles in the middle of the test, using limited operational routes in a closed environment”.
There was also some solid evidence that something automotive was being worked on at Apple. In 2017, the company obtained a license from the California Department of Motor Vehicles to test autonomous driving on public roads in the state. Cook also said the company was working on autonomous driving software at the time. And in 2018, an Apple test car (made by Lexus) was finished off by another car (driven by a human), offering further proof that Apple was still doing something in space. But a real car produced by Apple seemed increasingly unlikely, though not entirely out of the question. Meanwhile, Apple has yet to confirm that it was working on a real car.
In early 2019, it looked like Project Titan, whatever it was, was on the verge of death. Apple sacked 200 people from the Titan team in January, but in June, it acquired a startup struggling with autonomous driving, renewing hopes that Titan was still up and running. Other than that, it seemed that the company’s interest in self-driving technology was waning; their test cars recorded far fewer miles in 2019 than in 2018.
While there have been reports throughout 2020 that indicate Apple has revived plans to produce its own cars – the Apple Insider rumor blog has zealously cataloged patents filed by the company for everything from auto-darkening glass engines – the latest Reuters report it is perhaps the most definitive yet. He also says that Apple will use its own autonomous driving technology and build its own cars, joining the two phases of Project Titan into a product that could be on the road in five years.
And, according to Reuters, Apple hopes to bring something new to the table with a battery design that will make electric car batteries cheaper and last longer. One person involved in the project described battery technology as the “next level”. Apple’s focus on battery design makes a lot of sense, given Apple’s work on improving the batteries of its existing products. We may be seeing some of the technology that Apple hopes to incorporate into Project Titan now; the iPhone 12 Pros and iPad Pros come with handle sensors, which autonomous cars use to map their surroundings and detect nearby objects.
The report, while unconfirmed, had an impact, although some analysts appeared to be unconvinced that a car will actually happen. Lidar’s stock soared and Apple also jumped. Tesla, which would likely be the biggest competition for Apple’s car, has had a few bad days. Founder Elon Musk, on the other hand, did not seem very impressed by the report. He also admitted that he tried to sell Tesla to Apple, but Cook was not interested.
During the darkest days of the Model 3 program, I contacted Tim Cook to discuss the possibility of Apple acquiring Tesla (for 1/10 of our current value). He refused to attend the meeting.
– Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 22, 2020
Of course, any report on Apple’s future comes with many caveats and little certainty, as demonstrated by the car’s journey to this point. But there seems to be at least one way now. Now we’ll see if anything gets you down.
As always, Apple declined to comment.