The Apple car may be back on the table after rumors surfaced this week indicating the American technology company is developing a battery-electric vehicle that will enter production in 2024.
According to Reuters, Apple is developing an autonomous consumer vehicle that will leverage advanced new battery technology from the American company. This new battery tech will help to “radically” reduce battery costs, the report indicates, potentially giving the Apple car a competitive advantage over offerings from established electric vehicle makers such as Tesla and General Motors.
While details on the battery technology are scarce at the moment, Reuters says the company has a new battery pack design that eliminates the need for individual pouches, freeing up space within the battery module for more battery cells. This allows it to pack more active material into the battery, giving it a much higher energy density.
Apple first began exploring the idea of producing a passenger vehicle in 2014 and subsequently began designing its own vehicle under the guidance of former Tesla engineer Doug Field. At one point Apple had hundreds of people working on the program, known internally as “Project Titan”, although it began to scale back its efforts in 2019, instead choosing to focus on the software side of vehicle development. It also acquired autonomous vehicle development firm Drive.AI around this time.
Interestingly, Apple is not developing a shared autonomous vehicle to compete with offerings like the Cruise Origin or Zoox robotaxi. Instead, the Apple car will be positioned as a consumer vehicle that will be available for purchase and will appeal to the mass market. The technology company is also reportedly looking for an established automotive manufacturing partner that can build the vehicle. This suggests the Apple car will compete with other EVs targeting average consumers, like the Chevy Bolt EV and Tesla Model 3, for example.
Apple is targeting 2024 to start production of its mysterious self-driving EV, although the COVID-19 pandemic may delay its arrival until 2025, Reuters reports. Apple shares rose by three percent in pre-market trading Tuesday morning following the publication of the report.