Apple’s expansion into automobiles has certainly got the rumour mill churning. Apple began working on an electric vehicle project back in 2014 but in the last six months rumours have really picked up.
Expanding into cars is a huge step for the tech giant, particularly if it wants to compete with the likes of Tesla. While it will be a few years before we see Apple’s car project come to fruition, plenty of leak and rumours are already circulating Here’s what we can expect.
Apple Car design
Apple has not confirmed any rumours about its Apple car itself, but Apple CEO, Tim Cook, did speak about the project back in 2017. Talking to Bloomberg, Cook said:
“We’re focusing on autonomous systems. It’s a core technology that we view as very important… We sort of see it as the mother of all AI projects.”
Apple hasn’t said much beyond this, but these comments from Cook do confirm that the company is developing an AI system for cars, leading towards a completely autonomous vehicle at some point.
Another report from Bloomberg indicates that Apple is seeking a next-gen LiDAR supplier for its auto project. LiDAR is an advanced sensor technology that is already employed in many of Apple’s iPhone devices.
When used for a car this will allegedly allow a car’s computer to “see” its surroundings and aid with the whole self-driving element.
On top of being an electric vehicle, Apple is also apparently building a car battery that could radically increase a vehicle’s range, according to Reuters. This battery will also somehow significantly reduce the cost of EV batteries.
Those familiar with the project said Apple is planning to use a “monocell” design. This bulks up the cells in the battery and eliminates pouches and modules that hold battery materials, meaning more active material can be packed inside.
A patent for smart lighting filed by Apple (via 9to5 Mac) could be the solution to a common problem. You’ve dropped something on the floor of your car and your interior light just doesn’t cut it. Apple’s smart lighting would use a mixture of sensors and cameras to switch lights on in particular areas of the car’s interior to aid you with your search.
Like all patents take it with a grain of salt but this one seems like a smart choice. The smart lights also include a feature to gently wake you up after your self-driving car approaches its destination. The only time sleeping behind the wheel is actually allowed.
In something straight out of a science-fiction movie, another patent from Apple suggests it could be looking into automatic tinting windows.
The patent explains a glass technology that can alter its transparency, allowing users to have control over the tint of their window. The automatic part of the feature would also allow the windows to tint themselves in response to external weather conditions.
A patent that was filed back in 2016 suggested Apple was looking into creating retractable bumpers. The patent described the bumpers as housing an inflatable portion that extends out with pressurised gas. This is designed to provide soft initial contact on impact.
It’s unclear why Apple was looking into this technology but it could be to do with providing a sleeker design or making it easier to park in tight spaces.
Apple Car manufacturer
When it comes to actually building its vehicle, it seems Apple is looking for potential partners.
Hyundai spilled the beans earlier this year saying it was “in talks” with Apple over its new vehicle. However, since this news came out, the company has said neither Hyundai nor its subsidiary Kia are moving forward with the development of Apple’s car.
This could effectively put an end to rumours that Apple’s car will utilise Hyundai’s technology, such as its E-GMP platform.
Apple is still said to be in negotiations with a number of other car dealers. GM, Magna and Groupe PSA have all been rumoured and the latest report suggests LG and Magna’s e-Powertrain could be close to signing a contract with Apple to handle its initial car production.
When it comes to the technology inside the car, reports indicate Apple will continue its relationship with TSMC, which currently provides the A-series chips in Apple’s iPhones. It’s believed that TSMC will provide chips for Apple’s car which are expected to meet Level 4 or Level 5 chip requirements.
Apple car team
Apple has also hired a number of professionals to head up its Apple Car project over the years but it’s also seen its share of team member departures.
Doug Field, a former Tesla engineer, is currently heading the project as of August 2018.
Recently the company snagged Ulrich Kranz, an exec who previously worked at BMW and self-driving vehicle developer, Canoo. Kranz’s role in the Apple car project is currently unknown.
Other significant hires include Manfred Harrer, a chassis engineer from Volkswagen, former Tesla execs Steve MacManus, Michael Schwekutsch and Stuart Bowers, and Andrew Kim a former Tesla and Microsoft HoloLens designer.
Apple Car release date
The release of Apple’s car has been pushed back a number of times and recent rumours indicate it’s still a few years away.
Reuters reports we could be seeing the Apple Car as soon as 2024. However, famed Apple analyst, Ming-Chi Kuo, predicts we won’t see the car until 2025-2027.
Even if Apple ramps up the development of its vehicle this year it will still take time to put it through testing and manufacturing. That means we have years of leaks and rumours ahead of us.
So, be sure to keep checking this article as we will continue to compile everything you need to know about Apple’s electric car.
This article has been updated with additional information.