Apple Car project revving up, but launch is further down the road than ever

Apple One More Thing 2020
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Nothing roadworthy coming in the short term, despite speculation

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3 February 2021 | 0

Just when we thought the fabled Apple Car had driven off into the sunset, a flurry of recent rumours has given new life to the project. But despite some promising signs, we are still likely many years away from driving one.

The most recent rumour comes from well-known analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who writes that Apple is collaborating with several automakers on the Apple Car project, including Hyundai, GM, and Peugeot manufacturer PSA. According to Kuo, “Apple will leverage current automakers’ resources and focus on self-driving hardware and software, semiconductors, battery-related technologies, form factor and internal space designs, innovative user experience, and the integration with Apple’s existing ecosystem.” Specifically, Kuo says Apple will be using Hyundai’s E-GMP battery electric vehicle platform for the foundation of the Apple Car.

This is not the first time we heard about Apple teaming up with an established car maker to manufacture its first vehicle. According to a report in Korea Economic Daily earlier this year, Apple is looking to team up with Hyundai to offset the “enormous costs” of building the battery-powered electric engine. Further confirmation of the Hyundai partnership was added by Korea publication eDaily, which pointed to Hyundai subsidiary Kia and its Georgia plant as the likely landing spot for the Apple Car.

 

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Adding to Apple Car speculation is Apple’s recent leadership board shakeup, which saw longtime hardware chief Dan Riccio replaced by John Ternus as senior vice president of hardware engineering to allow Riccio to move to “a new project” within the company. While that does not necessarily signal a renewed focus on the Apple Car, it certainly adds to the speculation that Apple’s next big thing is something completely new.

Apple Car speculation has been rumoured for many years, with several starts and stops as Apple explores its options. Most recently, Apple reportedly scattered some 200 employees who comprised the project as Apple shifted its autonomous and artificial learning to other areas within the company. However, anticipation was renewed in December when Bloomberg reported that AI chief John Giannandrea had shifted to Apple’s automobile project.

However, even with ramping speculation, the Apple Car is still many years away. While an early December rumour suggested Apple’s car could roll out later this year, it was quickly doused with cold water. Bloomberg reported that the car will take “at least half a decade,” and Kuo now says 2025 “at the earliest,” with a possible push to 2027.

And that is before any actual production takes place. Even with a partnership with a well-known automaker, Apple’s car will present its own unique set of problems, especially since it will likely be loaded with cutting-edge tech. Hyundai’s all-electric Ioniq, for example, is rated for a 170-mile range, far lower than the most recent Tesla and likely well below what  Apple would want to deliver.

So, if you are eagerly anticipating buying a new Apple Car, you should probably switch gears. Apple may be closer than ever to actually make a car, but even if the project does not hit any detours or potholes, we are likely to see a folding iPhone or touch-screen Mac first.

IDG News Service

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