By on December 22, 2020

Apple iCar

Apple has targeted 2024 to produce a passenger vehicle that could include proprietary self-driving and battery technologies, according to Reuters.

Project Titan, The iPad creator’s automotive effort, started in 2014 with the goal of Apple designing its own vehicle. Apple later scaled back the effort to shift its focus elsewhere. Doug Field, an Apple veteran who had worked for Tesla, returned in 2018 to oversee the project, and in 2019 laid off 190 team members.

Apple iCar Apple has advanced to the point where it aims to build a vehicle for consumers, persons familiar with the effort said, requesting anonymity because Apple’s plans have not been made public. Apple’s creation of mass-market personal vehicles contrasts with rivals such as Alphabet’s Waymo, which built robo-taxis for a driverless ride-hailing service.

Apple’s strategy may include a new battery design that could drastically reduce their cost and increase the vehicle’s range, according to a person who has seen the designs. Apple declined to comment on its plans or future products and did not return calls to their media contacts.

Manufacturing a vehicle represents a challenge even for a company with ample resources that makes hundreds of millions of products each year with parts from around the world. In comparison, it took Tesla 17 years before it achieved profitability as a car maker. It is unclear who might manufacture and assemble an Apple car, but sources have said the company would rely on a manufacturing partner to build vehicles. Apple may decide to reduce the scope of this effort to an autonomous driving system, integrated into a car made by an existing automaker, rather than the maker of iPhones constructing an iCar from the ground up.

Pandemic-related delays could push the start of production into 2025 or beyond, persons with knowledge of Apple’s plans warned. Apple shares ended 1.24 percent higher after the news circulated on Monday, with Tesla shares ending 6.5 percent lower.

Outside partners may be required for elements including lidar sensors, necessary for self-driving cars to get a three-dimensional view of the road. An Apple car may need multiple sensors to scan different distances. These could be taken from internally-developed lidar sensors, such as those found in Apple’s iPhone 12 Pro and iPad Pro models, both released this year. Apple has reportedly held talks with potential suppliers, but it was also examining using its own sensors.

Apple iCar

Apple plans to use a monocell battery design that bulks up individual cells, creating space inside the battery by eliminating pouches and modules that hold battery materials. More active material inside the battery could give the car a longer range. Apple is also contemplating using lithium iron phosphate chemistry, or LFP, which is less likely to overheat and is safer than other types of lithium-ion batteries.

Apple had discussions about manufacturing the car with Magna International, but these talks fizzled out as Apple’s plans became unclear. Automotive contract manufacturers require volumes that could pose a challenge to any newbie in the automotive market, Apple included.

“In order to have a viable assembly plant, you need 100,000 vehicles annually, with more volume to come,” the person said.

Apple investors reacted to the report on the company’s plans with care. Trip Miller, managing partner at Apple investor Gullane Capital Partners, said, “It would seem to me that if Apple develops an advanced operating system or battery technology, it would be best utilized with an existing manufacturer under license. As we saw with Tesla and the legacy auto companies, establishing a complex manufacturing network around the globe doesn’t happen overnight.”

Hal Eddins, chief economist at Apple shareholder Capital Investment Counsel, noted Apple has a history of higher margins than most automakers. “My initial reaction as a shareholder is that I don’t see the appeal of the car business, but Apple may be eyeing another angle,” Eddins said.

Apple started a revolution in personal technology when it rolled out the Macintosh computer in 1984. Arguably the innovation leader with the iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, and Apple TV, Apple’s software operates across all of their devices, and services. My content has been created on Macs since the Classic was first introduced.

[Images: Apple]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

37 Comments on “Apple iCar: The Next Big Thing?...”


  • avatar
    Imagefont

    It will be white, it will be shaped like a computer mouse, it will have just one button and no steering wheel or other controls, the battery will be glued in place and you’ll need a pentalobe screwdriver and suction cup to replace it.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    My bad take is that they have waited too long. The shine is off the Apple and people aren’t as obsessed with the brand as they once were. If they managed to get a car out when Tesla did, it would have changed the world. Now it’s going to be somewhat of an also ran. Maybe they will sell plenty, but it wouldn’t be what would have happened if they’d timed it right.

    Apple shouldn’t be getting into the car market, Tesla should get into the high-end consumer electronics business.

    • 0 avatar
      Richard Chen

      I don’t think Apple is late to the game at all: EV/zero-emissions marketshare is still low with plenty of incoming mandates. They don’t make cheap hardware and they’re trying to expand services in the name of profits, perhaps they’ll have a new Apple One Million monthly subscription bundle with the iPhone and car.

      Tesla might make fast S3XY vehicles, but their move fast & break things philosophy makes me leery of buying anything electronics-related from them. The Model 3 manual has an entry on “Restarting The Touchscreen” in case it goes unresponsive or dark, something that a friend complains his 3 does on occasion at highway speeds.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        “perhaps they’ll have a new Apple One Million monthly subscription bundle with the iPhone and car.”

        That’s probably it, or at least part. Despite being much more popular in the laptop segment than it ever was (and should be) the MacBook won’t ever dominate it. The Iphone, while still providing the lions share of profits, is not going to propel them further. So apply the same Iphone model to some other product: Build in Taiwan/PRC with slave labor, make everything proprietary, build it for a short lifespan intending it to not be cost effective to repair, and then stick it up the posterior of AAPL zombies by then charging a subscription to use it.

        Buy AAPL calls.

        • 0 avatar
          Old_WRX

          28-Cars-Later,

          “Build in Taiwan/PRC with slave labor, make everything proprietary, build it for a short lifespan intending it to not be cost effective to repair, and then stick it up the posterior of AAPL zombies by then charging a subscription to use it.”

          Sounds like it conforms to modern ethics.

          Nihil Obstat.

          • 0 avatar
            RHD

            The new Apple Opal will be traded in for the even newer Apple Gravenstein after twelve months. That will be turned in for an Apple Grenadier after eleven months, even though it’s the exact same car, but now available in rose gold.
            Service must be scheduled weeks in advance at an Apple Car Store, but if you walk in, you can take a number and wait four or five hours to consult with a Genius Mechanic.
            If you accidently bump into anything with it, the windshield will shatter and it will be completely unusable until you pay 35% of its new price to have it replaced.

  • avatar
    Old_WRX

    It will be so compact and sleek that the passengers will have to be extruded into place between the electronics. The only means of “control” will be through “talking” to Siri. Siri will let you know in a pleasant female voice when you’re about to run into something (after a series of reverb soaked chimes, of course). Siri will inform you in a super irritating “pleasant” female voice that your apple subscription has run out and the vehicle cannot be operated. After a week in the thing you’ll be ready to drive an old Chevette if it will just shut up and stop trying to “help” you.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    I’ll tell you this: If they do produce a car, it won’t suffer from the kind of build quality issues that plague Tesla owners.

    • 0 avatar
      ScarecrowRepair

      It will use propietary charging cables, its tires will have to be changed by their AAAA subsidiary using AAAA products, its repairability rating will be lowest of all, and third parties? Pffffft!

    • 0 avatar
      Tstag

      That’s exactly why if they plan to make a car they should buy a small car company with the know how needed ideally in the premium space. JLR are probably the best fit for them. Indeed JLR could sort out all of the complexities that come with making a car, whilst Apple could give JLR a boost by upgrading the tech.

  • avatar
    Tstag

    If Apple wants to make a car it’s best bet would be to buy a car maker. and add a brand. Buying a large car maker such as Ford might be attractive because of the number of factories they could use to build new Apple cars. On the other hand if they went for a smaller company like JLR then they’d get all the expertise they need and low legacy costs, meaning they could just build new car factories where most economically beneficial.

  • avatar
    JMII

    “It would seem to me that if Apple develops an advanced operating system or battery technology, it would be best utilized with an existing manufacturer under license”

    This has been my take on this rumor ever since it started. Apple has gotten really good on making extremely small yet powerful, low battery drain sensors and chips (like the new M1). I can imagine a partnership with some OEM to provide “Apple Guidance” or similar. An entire car seems far fetched.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Apple’s lead position against right to repair, along with their efforts to water down legislation to restrict importing of products made with slave labor in China, says much about the lack of integrity this company possesses. I know that most big companies are run by sociopaths, but when you’re in a lead role as Apple is, you have an opportunity to change standards.

    I would not knowingly buy a car from a dealership owned by someone who beats his family. Why would I buy a car from a company benefiting from human slavery?

    • 0 avatar
      iNeon

      I used to worry my Nokia cell phone showed some tacit support of colonialist Europe.

      If you’d like to take a look at some human rights violations right here at home– go to any non-union supplier factory. GTFOH that Apple’s treating their third-world workforce worse than Tesla are their North American one.

    • 0 avatar
      thegamper

      “I would not knowingly buy a car from a dealership owned by someone who beats his family. Why would I buy a car from a company benefiting from human slavery?”

      Ahhhh, but would you buy a phone from them? Airpods? Ipad? Macbook? I suspect not in your case, but it doesn’t seem to bother most people. Granted, most of us dont know where our consumer products ultimately come from, but I have boycotted companies for much less. Lets not forget that the Billions and Billions that Apple derives from slave labor and abhorrent business practices is tax free as well thanks to their tax havens and loopholes. What a responsible corporate citizen.

      • 0 avatar
        jkross22

        Up to about 2018, it’s legitimately probable that most of us didn’t know how abusive the CCP was to certain groups of its citizens.

        Today… not so much. Unless you’re Tim Cook or VWs CEO who also claimed ignorance of “re-education camps”.

        Criminals.

        • 0 avatar
          Dan

          It’s legitimately probable that most Americans didn’t even know where China is, and still don’t.

          But leaving them out, who are you kidding. Communism has meant mass murder for 100 years. A government that began with Mao’s mass famines and then progressed to solving political protests – actual political protests, not the BLM looting TVs and sneakers kind – by sending in tanks to machinegun a few thousand of them suddenly stopped doing what communists always do?

          Please. Please.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    The problem with Apple is that, like their hardware, they will continue to own it long after the consumer actually purchases it. Try to get it repaired somewhere that Apple cant take a cut (warranty voided). Try to juice it up with non proprietary chargers (warranty voided, self destruction). Try to add any sort of aftermarket part (warranty voided). Try to use non-Apple services in connected vehicles….you get the idea. Every apple product is really just a open window into the consumer’s pocket. It is a horrible business model that we should all stand up against before it takes a foothold into other industries like our beloved automobiles.

  • avatar
    Wittyfull

    Here is the URL for Apple’s car – icar.us :)

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    Will it come standard with a busted windshield or will that be a cost added feature?

  • avatar
    dusterdude

    Will be interesting to see what they offer… I find they are an arrogant company, though some of there products are good quality.. They will need to come in with a great offering and improve ther customer service if they want to “make it” in the automotive business ..

    • 0 avatar
      Old_WRX

      dusterdude,

      “and improve ther customer service”

      Apple’s point of view is that the customer exists to serve Apple, not the other way round.

      More and more corporations seem to be becoming like little kids — “mine” “mine” “mine.” The idea of service to the customer seems utterly laughable to them.

  • avatar
    dusterdude

    @old_WRX

    Agreed ! I was being generous when I said “improve there customer service” . ( It is almost non-existent) Point I was trying to make is that there lack of customer service model won’t work in the auto business even if product they introduce is good.

  • avatar

    I’m an Apple user. It costs more but you make it back in the lack of stupid tech support you need to do, Apple is a bit better at keeping Eastern Euro hackers out (although probably not State Actors) and most Apple products are better quality than Windows stuff, as it damn well should be for the price. Apple’s secret sauce is that they limit the chip sets used, and the OS, so they have, unlike MS-Windows-the whole world, a very limited set of circumstances to support. They try to lock you in with a variety of tricks, so Tesla is the closest automotive example..see Rich Repairs for the corporate lockdown problems. Apple doesn’t have anything that would translate uniquely to the automotive sphere.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    When the CEO of Toyota says EVs are overblown, and echoes Musk that there isn’t enough electrical generation capacity, it’s too late for Apple to dive into a high capital/low margin industry that’s still better at mass assembly than Tesla.

  • avatar
    blppt

    Wow, I thought for a second you had made a typo—they seriously put the 1.4T in the wagon? Do they do the same for AWD?

    From what I’ve read, the 1.8T was mostly just “adequate”, so I can’t imagine the 1.4 is too enjoyable to drive.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • RHD: The original post in this thread had the analysis of its content in the very last line: “All BS.”...
  • Inside Looking Out: Grishka Rasputin is a brand of vodka.
  • redgolf: “The rule of thumb is never buy first year production cars” I disagree, I bought a 97 Pontiac GP...
  • SD 328I: Isn’t the current Ranger outselling everyone but the Tacoma? The current Ranger is nowhere near the...
  • SD 328I: You can blame VW for the larger Ranger, the next Amarok is going to be based on the Ranger, and they needed...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber