Over the last couple of years, we’ve heard different estimates of when Apple Car might finally make it to market which have ranged from 2024 to 2028. Now the latest report predicts a debut in 2026 with a custom Apple Silicon chip, no self-driving, and a price tag under $100,000.
There have been many twists and turns over the last seven years of Apple Car news and rumors. Back in 2017 after several years of work, it appeared Apple had given up on producing a physical vehicle and was ready to focus on autonomous vehicle software.
However, at the end of 2020, Apple pivoted back to working on producing an actual car powered by its own software.
Some reports suggested a launch as soon as 2024 while others said it would likely be 2028 or beyond. Rumors swirled that Hyundai and Kia were working to reach a deal to produce the vehicle but that was later scrapped.
Early in 2021, Bloomberg said that the Apple Car launch would likely launch between 2026-2028 and corroborated some reports that Apple was aiming for a self-driving-focused design. Since then, we’ve seen Project Titan have to reorganize its team once again.
No self-driving at launch
As reported by Bloomberg today, the latest on Project Titan is a scaling back of the effort that will skip fully autonomous driving at launch to prioritize getting the vehicle to market. Earlier reports suggested Apple may have been going for a fully autonomous design without a steering wheel or pedals.
“In a significant shift for the project, the company is now planning a less-ambitious design that will include a steering wheel and pedals and only support full autonomous capabilities on highways, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.”
However, Apple may still attempt to offer some entertainment features when possible:
“Apple currently plans to develop a vehicle that lets drivers conduct other tasks — say, watch a movie or play a game — on a freeway and be alerted with ample time to switch over to manual control if they reach city streets or encounter inclement weather. The company has discussed launching the feature in North America initially and then improving and expanding it over time.”
Apple Car price and release date
Sources close to the effort say the launch has been postponed from 2025 to 2026 and the aim is to price the vehicle under $100,000. That’s after previously considering pricing it above $120,000.
When it comes to the Apple Silicon, the chip for Apple car is expected to be “equal to about four of Apple’s highest-end Mac chips combined.”
“The heart of Apple’s technology is a powerful onboard computer system — codenamed Denali after the tallest mountain peak in North America — and a custom array of sensors. The processor’s performance is equal to about four of Apple’s highest-end Mac chips combined and is being developed by the company’s silicon engineering group. The chip has reached an advanced state and is considered nearly production-ready, though Apple may scale it down before the car’s launch to lower costs.”
Apple Car Design
Bloomberg’s sources say that Apple still hasn’t dialed in on a design for its first vehicle and the team is still working in a “pre-prototype” stage.
“The company is aiming to ready the design by next year and have the features set by the end of 2024. It then plans to put the car through extensive testing in 2025.”
Along with the switch from an autonomous focus to a driver-led design, Apple is said to have pivoted from a more “limousine-like interior” with passengers facing each other to a standard setup.
Apple is apparently still working on finding a partner to purchase an existing electric-vehicle platform instead of developing its own. The company has a number of auto industry veterans working on the project:
“The design of the car is being led by Ulrich Kranz, the ex-chief executive officer of Canoo, as well as former managers from Tesla, Lamborghini and Porsche. The software side of the system is led by former Tesla manager Stuart Bowers, while safety engineering, testing and regulatory matters are handled by ex-Ford Motor Co. executive Desi Ujkashevic.”
Project Titan leadership
The Apple executives leading Project Titan have shifted a number of times over the years. After coming out of retirement in 2016 to head up the effort, Bob Mansfield left in 2020. At that point, SVP of AI John Giannandrea took over for about a year before Apple Watch and Health app chief Kevin Lynch stepped in to lead.
Bloomberg highlights Lynch is still in charge of Project Titan and is the one who is putting a focus on “ensuring that a product actually reaches the market.”
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Author: Michael Potuck