Apple once again appears to be seriously looking at making a car. Reuters reports that Apple is pursuing production of a passenger vehicle by 2024 as well as the creation of self-driving systems and a “breakthrough battery technology.” The report is vague on how it all comes together — it’s not clear that all of this tech is going into the first passenger vehicle Apple hopes to make — but it indicates that Apple is considering vehicle production, after previously shutting down plans to make a car.
There have been rumors of Apple developing a car going back to 2015. But in 2016, the project was scaled down significantly, with development of a full car being scrapped and Apple’s team refocusing on providing software that could be licensed out to car manufacturers, according to reports at the time. Around 200 people were laid off from Apple’s car team just last year.
Now it seems that Apple has renewed its focus on building an actual vehicle — though there’s a lot of uncertainty on when (and even if) it will happen. Reuters says 2024 is the production goal for an Apple-made passenger vehicle, though it could be pushed back “into 2025 or beyond” because of pandemic-related delays. There is also still a chance Apple could scale its efforts back to just autonomous driving tech, the report warns.
The report says that Apple is relying on third parties to provide some components of its self-driving tech, including its LIDAR systems. Apple’s battery technology reportedly relies on a “monocell” design that allows more capacity to be fit into the overall battery unit by not dividing it up into discrete cells. Reuters reports that it could allow for “a potentially longer range” and lower costs.
Apple declined to comment.
If Apple is planning to manufacture a self-driving car, it may also face regulatory hurdles before it can hit the road. There are no true self-driving vehicles available today, though some cars, like those from Tesla, offer a degree of advanced driver assistance driving in certain situations.
Earlier this month, Apple handed control of its self-driving car project over to John Giannandrea, the company’s head of AI. Giannandrea was brought on board in 2018 to work on Siri, after previously working at Google as head of search and artificial intelligence.
Just yesterday, another report, from the Economic Daily News in Taiwan, said that an Apple-made car could be released as soon as 2021 in what would be a stunningly ambitious timeframe if true. Back in 2018, reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted the launch of a car between 2023 and 2025, according to MacRumors. Generally, though, the impression has been that Apple was focused on self-driving technology for the past several years, rather than production of an actual Apple-branded vehicle.