Reuters reported today
plans on starting production of its self driving car by 2024. The vehicle would use a special battery technology said those familiar with the plan who discussed it with Reuters. Apple has been moving forward on the project since it tapped former Tesla employee Doug Field, who has worked for some time at Apple, to run what the company calls Project Titan. Field laid off 190 workers from Apple's team last year.
Apple's self-driving car could be under production as soon as 2024
Now, Apple has progressed to the point where it can state that it is working on a vehicle for consumers according to two anonymous sources who requested anonymity from Reuters since Apple has not publicly divulged its plans. Another source who has seen the battery design for the vehicle say that it can increase the vehicle's range while "radically" decreasing the cost of purchasing the component. The battery will use a "monocell" design that according to one source, increases the size of the cells in the battery. By eliminating pouches and modules that hold the materials used for the battery, it frees up more room inside the battery pack. This leaves room for more active material to be placed inside the packaging. This will allow the car to travel longer distances before needing to be charged. Apple might use a material called LFP, or lithium iron phosphate. This material is less likely to overheat and is safer than other lithium-ion batteries. According to one person familiar with the plans, the Apple Car's battery technology is "...next level. Like the first time you saw the iPhone."
Apple is moving into a completely new product line and it is worth noting that it took Elon Musk 17 years before he was able to put Tesla in the black consistently. Many believe that if any company is up to the challenge of entering the automobile business as a newbie, it would be Apple. One person who worked on Apple's Project Titan said, "If there is one company on the planet that has the resources to do that, it’s probably Apple. But at the same time, it’s not a cellphone."
Trip Miller, managing partner at Apple investor Gullane Capital Partners, said that it might be hard for Apple to build large quantities of its car right off the bat. Miller stated that "It would seem to me that if Apple develops some advanced operating system or battery technology, it would be best utilized in a partnership with an existing manufacturer under license. As we see with Tesla and the legacy auto companies, having a very complex manufacturing network around the globe doesn’t happen overnight."
Apple is expected to find a manufacturing partner to manufacture the car based on Apple's designs. This is the process that Apple uses to produce its products such as the iPhone. Those familiar with what Apple is thinking say that the company could still decide not to build the car itself, leave that to traditional automakers, and supply each vehicle with an autonomous driving system. Or, Apple could decide to design the entire product from soup to nuts.
The car is expected to use the LiDAR sensor, featured on the 2020 iPhone 12 Pro
, iPhone 12 Pro Max
, and iPad Pro
camera systems for improved AR capabilities and enhanced autofocus in low light. On the vehicle, LiDAR sensors will help the car create a three-dimensional view of the road. Apple might turn to LiDAR manufacturers, or it might just decide to build its own.
While today's report mentions 2024 as the year when Apple will start the manufacturing process for the car, delays related to the pandemic, which forced Apple to stagger the release dates for this year's iPhone models, could delay the start of auto production to 2025.