Apple products are typically small enough to fit in a pocket, on your wrist, in a bag, or at worst atop a desk. But the company’s next big thing may be truly massive indeed – a car. Well, reportedly.
Apple car rumors have popped up here and there for years, and Steve Jobs even considered building one way back when. In early 2015, the rumors picked up incredible steam, with major publications reporting details on Apple’s supposed plans to create electric, and maybe eventually self-driving cars. While things went quietly for a while, reports are starting to surface again
Want to get caught up on everything Apple Car? Here’s a look at the top details we’ve heard about the Apple Car, followed by all the stories that have popped up over the last few years on the subject.
A work in progress: What we know about the development so far
We’ve heard about Apple Car since the start of 2015 from many different reports. While the specifics have changed, we know for certain that Apple is working on some kind of car. Codenamed Project Titan, the vehicle is likely an electric car. And, it might be a self-driving car – although later reports suggested that going autonomous is more of a far-off goal.
And, in a 2021 interview, Tim Cook acknowledged the existence of the Apple Car project. If Apple’s CEO publicly mentioned it, we know it’s a sure thing. Whatever the first form may be, if Apple really is working on a car of its own, that’s obviously huge news.
Titan isn’t a pet project, either. In September 2015, the Wall Street Journal reported that Apple would triple the size of its car team. At that point, it already consisted of around 600 people. Since then, Apple has continued to grow the car team by poaching employees from other automakers, such as Tesla, Ford, BMW, and more. That’s a ton of talented folks working on something big.
In 2015, reports claimed that Apple was in negotiations with BMW to base the Apple Car on the BMW i3. EV fans might remember how similar this is to the initial Tesla Roadster being based on the Lotus Elise. However, that deal reportedly fell apart as Apple didn’t want to cede control over the software.
So, the company might be considering a different route. Reports in September 2016 claimed that Apple was in talks to acquire McLaren and put its considerable design prowess into building a car for a surely less-wealthy audience.
Since then, Apple has been in talks with Volkswagen, Hyundai, Lucid Motors, and Canoo, as recently as the start of 2022. Any potential partnership between the tech giant and an automaker seems to have fallen flat. For the time being, it seems Apple is without an auto-partner.
Is there any good news? A report from the Korea Times in 2021 revealed that LG and Apple were in talks for EV components. There’s been no word on the collaboration either way yet, so we assume this isn’t official. Apple also continues to hold a permit from the Californian DMV to test self-driving cars in the state.
Tech on board: Potential features for Apple’s vehicle
In 2021, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman detailed Apple’s potential plans for the car. According to the report, Apple is going full tilt on a self-driving car that doesn’t need any driver interaction. Apparently, the plan is for the car to come without any steering wheel or pedals at all. While that sounds pretty wild, it has been done before. Gurman compared the ambitious plan to Canoo’s driverless tech.
While ditching the steering wheel and pedals sound cool, it might cause a bump in the road (pardon the pun) for Apple. Legislators are sticklers for vehicle safety, so might not give the go-ahead to a car without these manual controls. A steering wheel and pedals may be required for emergency reasons.
Apple’s demonstration of 2023’s CarPlay update at WWDC in 2022 gave us the best look yet at Apple’s infotainment system plans. In the new version of CarPlay, Apple’s designs sprawl over all screens in the car. Apple Car would likely include a similar version of the OS, but without the requirement of a connected iPhone.
As for the battery, Apple is designing its own battery technology, set to improve performance by miles (last pun, I promise). That’s not so good for the more impatient of us, as it means we have no way of predicting how good it’ll be. But, it does mean we’ll likely see a battery that boasts better range and charging. As for the charger, Apple Car will likely support the standard Combined Charging System.
Beyond this, there’s not all that much more we know about Apple Car.
Around a few corners: Potential release dates (well… years) for Apple Car
A report in 2015 claimed that Apple wanted the car “ready to ship” in 2019. But it was unclear whether that meant just finalizing the design or quite literally getting it to consumers. A later report claimed that a 2021 debut is much more likely as Apple has dealt with road bumps and team shifts along the way. Building a car from scratch isn’t easy, and Apple will surely want to get it right before showing anything to anyone.
In August 2018, Apple-focused analyst Ming-Chi Kuo from TF International Securities suggested that the Apple Car will release sometime in the 2023-2025 window – which means it’s still some years away. As of 2021, Apple analyst Mark Gurman from Bloomberg still chalks up 2025 as a realistic year for the car’s announcement.
Nought to pricey: Pricing rumors around Apple Car
We all know about the so-called “Apple tax”, right? Well, that’s probably not the case with the Apple Car. Tech analysts from Jefferies & Co estimated in 2015 that the car could come in around US$55,000 when it eventually ships. That’s around the price of a base-level Tesla Model 3 at US$46,000, but cheaper than the US$95,000 entry-level Model S.
On the other hand, if it’s not actually coming until 10 years after that report, the price may change. Given current going-ons, there’s plenty of reason to believe that it could cost somewhat more than that.