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May 8, 2024
(Updated on
Jan 27, 2024
)

Will Apple Ever Step Into The Automobile Industry—When and How?

In 2014, Apple set out on a groundbreaking venture known as "Project Titan," with the goal of developing an electric vehicle (EV) equipped with limited self-driving capabilities. Apple's plans, which initially envisioned a car that required no human intervention, went through significant changes over time as a result of internal conflict and leadership changes. The initial design featured a unique concept with four inward-facing seats, fostering face-to-face conversations among passengers. However, the vision evolved into a more conventional EV with driver-assistance features, resembling the functionality of Tesla vehicles. 

Photo by Andy Wang on Unsplash

The difficulties in developing a fully autonomous vehicle forced Apple to make this change and choose a more practical design to bring a product to market. The Apple Car, now slated for a potential release no earlier than 2028, will include a Level 2 autonomous driving system, offering steering and brake/acceleration support while requiring the driver's continuous attention. LiDAR sensors, radar sensors, and cameras play pivotal roles in enhancing driver assistance features.

9 Key Components of the Apple Car:

1. Processor:

This most recent chip from Apple outperforms four Mac chips in terms of power, demonstrating the company's dedication to innovation.  This high-end processor, featuring neural processors capable of handling the intricate AI demands of autonomous driving, is poised to set new benchmarks in automotive technology.

2. Safety:

Safety is a main focus of Apple's vehicle design. The company aspires to surpass competitors like Tesla and Waymo by incorporating redundancies and backup systems, ensuring a robust defence against potential driving system failures.

3. Charging and Battery:

In alignment with industry standards, the Apple Car is expected to be compatible with the Combined Charging System used for electric vehicles. Apple is also pioneering a revolutionary battery design, termed "monocell," aimed at substantially reducing costs and enhancing the vehicle's range.

4. Sensors:

Apple is exploring partnerships with suppliers to integrate smaller, more affordable LiDAR sensors. Talks with Wenmao, a company supplying LiDAR sensors for iPhones, indicate Apple's dedication to leveraging cutting-edge sensor technology in its vehicles.

5. Infotainment System:

The vehicle's interior may feature a large iPad-like touch screen, allowing users to interact seamlessly with the central panel. This integration aligns with Apple's broader ecosystem, facilitating connectivity with its existing devices and services.

6. Possible Partnerships:

Apple's lack of experience in car manufacturing necessitates collaboration with industry partners. While discussions with Hyundai, Nissan, General Motors, LG Magna, Porsche, Foxconn, and LG have taken place, the finalized manufacturing partner remains undisclosed.

7. Development History:

Apple's journey into the automotive realm dates back to pre-iPhone days, with Steve Jobs contemplating an Apple car in 2010. "Project Titan" commenced in 2014, initially focusing on developing a minivan-like electric vehicle. Internal disagreements on key aspects, including autonomy, led to delays and eventually a shift in focus towards underlying autonomous technology. The company obtained permits to test self-driving vehicles and purchased Drive.ai, a self-driving startup, in 2019.

8. Leadership and Recruitment:

Leadership changes marked Project Titan's trajectory, with John Giannandrea, Apple's AI and machine learning chief, taking over from Bob Mansfield in 2020. Kevin Lynch, recognized for his work on the Apple Watch, has also joined the car team. Apple's recruitment efforts have attracted top talent from established automakers, electric vehicle startups, and experts in autonomous systems.

9. Secret Headquarters:

Speculation surrounds Apple's secret vehicle research and development lab, potentially located in Sunnyvale, California. Buildings with internal names referencing Greek mythological characters hint at the secrecy surrounding "Project Titan."

Release Date

Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash

The release of the Apple Car, once promised for an earlier timeline, has been subject to delays and readjustments. With a current target of no earlier than 2028, Apple aims to produce a high-end vehicle that integrates seamlessly with its ecosystem. This postponement reflects the intricate challenges and complexities involved in developing a cutting-edge electric vehicle with autonomous capabilities. Apple's initial ambition for a Level 5 autonomous system, representing full automation without any need for driver intervention, has been substantially scaled down. Against the backdrop of these developments, Apple's stock performance has witnessed noteworthy changes. Currently trading at $194.96, Apple's stock has experienced a modest uptick. Over the past year, the company's stock has demonstrated resilience and growth, registering a substantial 38% increase. This positive trajectory is particularly notable given the stock's rise from approximately $140 a share in the preceding January. Modern engineering, refined aesthetics, and Apple's mission to revolutionize whole markets come together in the Apple Car.  Even though there have been changes in direction and obstacles along the way, the excitement around this car project shows how Apple could be a game-changer in the electric and driverless vehicle industry.

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