The long and tumultuous journey of the Apple car has become a saga filled with anticipation, setbacks, and constant speculations. As a tech giant synonymous with innovation, Apple’s foray into the electric vehicle (EV) market has been anything but smooth.
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Apple’s Ambitious Beginnings
Back in 2008, founder Steve Jobs initiated plans for an Apple electric car. However, these plans remained shrouded in secrecy, mirroring the tight-lipped approach of Tesla. The focus, as revealed by Wikipedia, has always been on self-driving capabilities, aligning with the company’s penchant for cutting-edge technology.
Partnerships and Speculations: Over the years, Apple has been linked to various automakers globally. Speculations ranged from partnerships with BMW and Mercedes-Benz to potential alliances with Nissan, BYD Auto, McLaren Automotive, and even Porsche. The rumored association with Volkswagen to create an autonomous version of the VW T6 commercial van added another layer of complexity.
The Hyundai Rollercoaster: The rollercoaster continued with rumors of a $3.59 billion deal with Hyundai to utilize its Georgia manufacturing plant for an autonomous car. However, Hyundai and Kia later confirmed that they were not in talks with Apple. The tech giant explored discussions with Canoo and faced persistent rumors about partnerships with Japanese manufacturers.
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The Autonomous Drive Focus
Amidst the uncertainties, one consistent theme prevailed – Apple’s relentless focus on autonomy. The team, which at one point exceeded 1,000 people, worked on creating a self-driving vehicle. Apple’s pursuit of autonomous technology included acquiring the startup Drive.ai in June 2019.
The Current Dilemma: Fast forward to January 2024, and Bloomberg reports a significant setback. The production of the Apple car is now pushed back to 2028 at the earliest. What’s more distressing is that the vehicle, when launched, will only achieve Level 2+ autonomy – requiring driver attention and intervention similar to Tesla’s current Autopilot feature.
A Shift in Strategy: The new approach signals a shift, with Apple now planning to release an upgraded system post-launch, aiming for Level 4 autonomy in specific conditions. This strategy change follows intensive meetings involving Apple’s board, project head Kevin Lynch, and CEO Tim Cook during 2023.
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Project Titan’s Expensive Odyssey
Internally known as Project Titan, the Apple car project has been one of the company’s most expensive R&D endeavors for almost a decade. Despite investing hundreds of millions annually, the vehicle hasn’t progressed beyond the prototype stage.
Skepticism and Profit Margins: Despite the new plan, skepticism looms among Apple executives regarding achieving iPhone-like profit margins in the automotive sector. However, a high-priced EV could still contribute significant revenue and establish Apple in the growing electric vehicle landscape.
An Unpredictable Road Ahead: As Apple grapples with delays, changes in strategy, and internal skepticism, the road ahead for the Apple car remains unpredictable. In a landscape where tech peers are making substantial strides in the automotive industry, Apple’s approach continues to be closely watched.
*Disclaimer: This blog post is based on available information and speculations, and Apple’s plans may evolve over time.
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