Apple Delays its Long Rumored Electric ‘Apple Car' Until 2026, According to Sources
The much-anticipated electric "Apple Car" from technology giant Apple Inc. won't be here until at least 2026, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday citing sources familiar with Apple's plans. It also appears that Apple is abandoning the Apple Car's SAE Level-5 autonomous driving technology with a more simplified self-driving capabilities, at least for the first version of the vehicle, according to Bloomberg.
Apple was rumored to be working on the Apple Car project dubbed "Project Titan" since 2017. Over the years, several Apple development vehicles outfitted with hardware for autonomous driving were spotted near the company's headquarters in Cupertino, California. The development vehicles were an indication that Apple was working on autonomous driving technology for its Apple Car.
Rumors have circulated for years in Silicon Valley that Apple was secretly developing an advanced electric vehicle without a steering wheel and Level-4 or higher autonomous driving capabilities. It is not clear if those plans are still being pursued. According to Bloomberg, the Apple Car will feature autonomous highway driving capabilities instead of urban areas which is what Tesla is working to accomplish with its Full-Self Driving (FSD) feature that is currently in beta testing.
In the past, Apple CEO Tim Cook referred to the Apple Car as the "Mother of all AI projects". But so far, the company has managed to keep its workon the project a closely-guarded secret. Although Apple has kept Project Titan a secret, its involvement with other companies for the project were leaked. In Dec. 2020, reports said that Apple was in talks with automaker Hyundai Motor Co to build its Apple Car, but those discussions ended in February 2021 with no deal being struck with Hyundai's Kia brand.
Then in February 2021, Bloomberg reported that Apple was in talks with multiple lidar developers to supply the sensors for its Apple Car project. According to the report, Apple had already assembled a team of hardware engineers to develop electric drive systems, external vehicle body designs, as well as an interior for the Apple Car.
In July 2021, LG Electronics finalized its new joint venture agreement with automotive supplier Magna International Inc. to develop e-powertrains and other components for electric vehicles. The new joint venture company is named "LG Magna e-Powertrain" and is based in Incheon, South Korea and was linked to Apple Inc's secretive electric car project.
The Korean Times reported in Sept 2021 that Apple was "very near" to inking a deal with LG Magna e-Powertrain to build its futuristic Apple Car. But those plans remain unclear.
Apple was also reported to be in talks with Chinese battery suppliers Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Limited (CATL) and BYD to supply the batteries for the Apple Car. But Apple's unreasonable demands on the two companies resulted in the negotiations breaking down.
Apple reportedly wanted either of the two companies to agree to set up teams that would only work with it exclusively, as well as build a battery plant in the U.S. that would build batteries only for Apple and not for any potential rivals, three people with knowledge of the discussions told Reuters. CATL found it impossible to set up a separate product development team just for Apple.
Apple has also turned to industry veterans for help with the Apple Car project, including a high-profile hire from Tesla.
In Dec 2021, Bloomberg reported that Apple hired Christopher "CJ" Moore to work on the software for its self-driving car project. Moore is reporting to Stuart Bowers, Former VP of Engineering at Tesla who joined Apple at the end of 2020. Bowers led Tesla's Autopilot team before departing the company in August 2019.
Moore was in the spotlight in May 2021 after remarks he made about the capabilities of Tesla's Autopilot autonomous driving feature were uncovered.
During a Tesla earnings call in Jan 2021, Chief Executive Elon Musk wrote in a tweet that he was highly confident that Tesla vehicles will be able to "drive themselves with reliability in excess of humans" by the end of 2021. But Musk's tweet did not reflect the view of Tesla's own engineering team, documents confirmed.
However Moore downplayed Musk's claim and wrote in a memo to the California DMV that "Elon's tweet does not match engineering reality."
If Apple does launch an electric car in 2026, the company would likely become a big rival to EV leader Tesla. Apple also has an entire ecosystem of hardware and software products that could integrate with the Apple Car, making it more like an iPhone on wheels.
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