The rumors of Apple working on its own passenger vehicle date all the way back to 2014, with many reports claiming that the ambitious initiative is internally called Project Titan. Since then, the car project has reportedly been put on the back burner in favor of developing self-driving car technology that will likely be licensed to other carmakers. Now, a new report from Reuters claims that Apple’s car plans are back on track and that the company is ‘targeting 2024 to produce a passenger vehicle that could include its own breakthrough battery technology.‘
At the core of Apple’s passenger vehicle plans is a new battery design that is claimed to be more space-efficient, offers an increase in vehicle range, and also happens to be ‘radically’ cheap. Apple plans to use a unique “monocell” design that bulks up the individual cells in the battery and frees up space inside the battery pack by eliminating pouches and modules that hold battery materials,” the report adds citing a source familiar with the new developments.
The company is also experimenting with an alternative source of chemical power for its batteries called LFP (lithium iron phosphate) that is claimed to be much better at thermal management by reducing overheating risk and is, therefore, safer than the Li-ion batteries found inside electric vehicles from the likes of Tesla. But Apple is not the only player here. As per a CNBC report, Tesla is also working on a battery technology that substitutes the Li-ion core in favor of Lithium Iron Phosphate material. This technology is also likely the backbone of Tesla’s “million mile battery” goal.
However, nothing is written in stone yet. The Reuters report adds that ‘pandemic-related delays could push the start of production into 2025 or beyond.’ Apple has reportedly got in touch with suppliers to source parts for systems such as the LiDAR sensor. As for actual production, Apple will likely outsource it to manufacturing partners, but there will be a lot of supply chain challenges because cars are made up of way more parts than an iPhone or MacBook – and crossing that hurdle would be the biggest challenge for Apple.
Plus, inking a deal with a manufacturing partner will require bulk orders that could ensure a steady production for at least a year or two, another big piece of the puzzle that Apple has to solve being a new entrant in the domain. Of course, there will be a lot of fanfare and Apple might actually surprise everyone with a great product, but selling a thousand-dollar iPhone is easier than convincing people to shell out fifty or sixty times that amount on a first-generation car from a company with no experience or goodwill in the automobile industry.
Apple might go back to developing self-driving tech
There is also a chance that Apple could wind down its passenger vehicle ambitions (again) and will focus its resources on self-driving systems that will be outsourced to other carmakers. “And there is still a chance Apple will decide to reduce the scope of its efforts to an autonomous driving system that would be integrated with a car made by a traditional automaker, rather than the iPhone maker selling an Apple-branded car, one of the people added,” the report adds.
Wait, it might even happen in 2021?
Another report from Taiwan’s Economic Daily News (via Macrumors) claims that Apple’s own car might debut as early as next year in September. Apple’s supply chain partners have reportedly scaled up the production of components drastically as the car’s debut plans have been pushed two years ahead. The report also adds that Apple has already tested prototype of its passenger vehicle in California. We advise processing this report with a heavy dose of skepticism. Prolific Apple leakster Jon Prosser also claims that this is not happening in 2021.
— Jon Prosser (@jon_prosser) December 21, 2020