The rumored Apple car has been delayed yet again, with Bloomberg reporting that the electric vehicle will go on sale in 2026.
Apple has also scaled back its self-driving plans, with the car including traditional driving controls and only planned to be capable of autonomous driving on highways.
The target is to sell the Apple car for less than $100,000, and Apple is still searching for a partner to provide an electric skateboard platform to build the vehicle on.
Apple has been rumored to be developing an electric car, code-named Titan, since 2014, and the tech giant has faced numerous setbacks in its quest to expand into the automotive realm. Massive layoffs in 2019 sparked talk that the project had been canceled, while a deal to partner with Hyundai fell through in 2021. Now a report from Bloomberg says that the Apple car has been delayed by a year, with the launch now scheduled for 2026, and that Apple has abandoned plans to make the vehicle capable of full self-driving.
Bloomberg cites unnamed sources close to the project claiming Apple has come to the realization that its initial goals of a Level 5 fully autonomous vehicle are impossible with current technology. Apple had envisioned a lounge-like vehicle without a specific driver's seat, steering wheel, or pedals, but the company is now backtracking on that fantasy. When the Apple car arrives in 2026, it will include driver's controls and will only be capable of full autonomous driving on the highway.
Still Looking to Free Drivers from Driving
Still, Apple's plans for highway autonomy seem ambitious. Unlike systems like General Motors' Super Cruise that require the driver to keep their eyes on the road, Apple's goal is to allow drivers the freedom to take their attention away from the road to do things like watch a movie or play a game. The driver will be warned "with ample time" if they need to take over when exiting the highway or approaching stormy weather.
The Apple car will be centered around a powerful onboard computer, internally referred to as Denali, which has processing power equivalent to around four top-end Mac chips. The vehicle's chip, which is paired with lidar and radar sensors along with cameras, is reportedly almost production ready. Tesla's Autopilot system, meanwhile, relies solely on cameras.
Apple had originally anticipated the car starting at over $120,000 but is now hoping to get the price under $100,000, according to the Bloomberg story. The design has yet to be finalized but Apple seems to have ditched its original plans for a pod-like vehicle—similar to the Canoo Lifestyle Vehicle—in favor of a more traditional car shape. It appears Apple intends to finalize the design next year and lock in the features by the end of 2024 before embarking on a testing program in 2025. Apple is also still said to be looking for a partner that will supply an electric skateboard platform. Around 1000 employees are focused on the Apple car, with Apple investing around $1 billion into the project each year. Still, Apple has encountered myriad challenges in the eight years that it has been working on Titan, and it still has a long way to go before the Apple car becomes a reality.
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