The Apple Car is actually coming !Reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said that Apple is working on an Apple Car that will launch between 2023 and 2025, despite rumors suggesting that Apple has ceased its work on an autonomous vehicle and is instead focusing on software.
You may have noticed the buzz over the coming release of Apple’s first pair of smart glasses. But there’s even more anticipation over this. According to the Reuters news agency – Apple is now building an electric vehicle. It won’t be a ride-hailing service Google’s Waymo, but a car for personal use.
The company has a reputation for sleek and stylish designs that won’t disappoint, and neither, likely, will the Apple car. But we don’t yet know what it’ll look like. Nor has the company even admitted it’s working on a vehicle.
Apple is notoriously obsessed with secrecy when it comes to what it has on the drawing board. But as Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk once pointed out – it’s pretty hard to hide something if you hire over a thousand engineers to work on it. Not surprisingly, Apple’s ambitious plans are meant to compete with tesla.
When Tesla unveiled its first electric car in 2008, the Roadster, it apparently piqued the interest of the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Jobs is said to have been in awe of the brilliant engineering behind Tesla and wanted to build a car as well. Tim Cook, who took over from Jobs, is believed to have approved the Apple project codenamed Titan.
How important is it that Apple not miss out on cars?
I think there is a major disruption looming there. Senior executives reportedly toured BMW’s plant in Leipzig, Germany as early as 2014 to see how it builds its vehicles. And also poached a lot of top talent from Tesla. Including Jamie Carlson – the engineer who led Tesla’s autopilot team. Powertrain test engineer, John Ireland. And Tesla’s vice-president of engineering Chris Porritt, who recently left Apple to join the Croatian car manufacturer Rimac.
Over the years, it’s believed as many as 5,000 people have been working on Apple’s supposedly ‘secret’ project – a labor force similar in size to Hyundai’s American workforce. But it hasn’t been an easy road for Apple. It started out without a clear vision for the car.
Whether it would be fully autonomous or semi-autonomous. And then it switched gears so to speak. Hardware expert Bob Mansfield came out of retirement to rejoin Apple and is said to have shifted the company’s focus to developing an autonomous driving system for a car that someone else would build. Then it appeared Apple reassessed its goals once again and decided to build a car after all.
Apple and Tesla
In 2018, Apple hired Tesla engineer Doug Field to lead the project alongside Mansfield. The company then laid off about 200 people as part of the restructuring and appeared to refocus its efforts on building an entire vehicle with all the addons you might expect from a world leader in tech.
For example, it has even applied for a patented technology that can alter the tint of car windows. So that passengers can control how much those from the outside can see when they look in. A key part of Apple’s strategy is to make longer-lasting and cheaper batteries – the most expensive single component in an electric car.
Today, a battery pack can cost more than $10,000. Apple reportedly is looking into a battery design that sounds similar to Tesla’s new battery with enlarged cells to pack more active material inside to increase driving range. While also reducing some of the redundant structures within the package itself to bring down the weight, size, and cost.
Tesla hopes the advancements in battery technology mean it could bring the price of an electric car down to $25,000 in a few years. This has been our dream since the beginning of the company. Making it more in line with gasoline and diesel-fueled vehicles. If Apple uses similar technology, it would be able to make an affordable car for the masses as well. Ironically, Apple once had the chance to buy Tesla.
Tesla Darkest Days of Production
Tesla nearly went bankrupt during the darkest days of production for the Model 3, when there were delays in automating its battery factory in Nevada. Musk says he approached the Apple CEO about a deal but Cook. Tesla eventually overcame its production problems. But it only took 17 years to become profitable – proving that manufacturing automobiles is a struggle.
A big advantage for Tesla going forward is that it will manufacture virtually every component of its vehicles in-house, including its new batteries – which will drive down costs. Apple doesn’t have that kind of manufacturing know-how. So it’s likely to rely on an outside manufacturer to build the car. Just as it relies on other companies to make the iPhone. The same goes for potentially tapping partners for elements such as sensors to help with self-driving.
Apple could be seen testing out various sensors a few years ago on a Lexus. Though its own vehicle would hardly be ‘sleek and stylish’ with this bulky addition. In order to further its self-driving expertise, Apple also purchased Drive.ai in 2019, a self-driving vehicle startup designed to operate as a shuttle service. Its entire car division has now moved under the leadership of John Giannandrea, Apple’s senior vice president of AI and machine learning. So clearly what Apple has in mind is much more complex than simply building upon its software system.
What are the features of the Apple Car?
Apple CarPlay, which allows features of the iPhone to be available on the in-built display of another company’s vehicle. So the big question is: when can we see an Apple car on the road? Reuters is suggesting it could come as early as 2024. Although, the pandemic could delay things because of supply chain issues.
Despite all the hurdles, the potential rewards are staggering. Tesla is already the most valued automaker in the world…worth more on paper than the seven top car companies combined. It recently joined the prestigious S&P 500 index fund and its stock price appears to know no limits.
What is Apple play in your car?
Apple CarPlay is a feature in new cars (and some aftermarket car stereos) that allows you to control and view certain iPhone- or iPad-based apps through the dashboard’s media system, including moving-map navigation functionality.
If Apple cuts into Tesla’s profits, it could temper Tesla’s share price – although some analysts point out Apple is more of a threat to legacy automakers like Ford rather than Tesla. Some have accused Apple of having lost its innovative edge following the death of Steve Jobs. But a car would be a game-changer. And with the age of mobility sets in – is it any wonder a giant of the tech industry also wants a piece of the EV pie?
It’s going to be an uphill battle to catch up with Tesla. Tesla sold about half a million cars in 2020. So here’s a question for you: So if the growth rate is 50% year over year, by what year will Tesla sell 20 million cars annually which is the target?
Is Tesla worth more than Apple?
Tesla’s current market value according to FactSet is $51 billion, while Apple’s current market value is $772 billion after a 27% rally this year.