The alleged Apple car has been delayed yet again, with Bloomberg reporting that the EV will go on sale in 2026.
Apple has also scaled back its self-driving plans, with the car including traditional driving controls and planned to be capable of self-driving only on highways.
The goal is to sell the Apple car for under $100,000, and Apple is still looking for a partner to provide an electric skateboard platform on which to build the vehicle.
Apple has been rumored to be developing an electric car, codenamed Titan, since 2014, and the tech giant has faced numerous setbacks in its quest to expand into the automotive realm. Massive layoffs in 2019 prompted speculation that the project had been cancelled, while a deal to partner with Hyundai fell through in 2021. Now a Bloomberg report says the Apple car has been delayed by a year, with launch now slated for 2026, and that Apple has abandoned plans to make the vehicle capable of completely self-driving.
Bloomberg cites unnamed sources close to the project as saying that Apple has come to the conclusion that its initial goals of a fully autonomous Level 5 vehicle are impossible with current technology. Apple had envisioned a living room-like vehicle without a specific driver’s seat, steering wheel or pedals, but now the company is backtracking on that fantasy. When the Apple car arrives in 2026, it will include driver controls and will only be able to drive fully autonomously on the highway.
Still trying to free drivers from driving
Still, Apple’s plans for highway range look 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 off the road to do things like watch a movie or play games. . The driver will be warned “well in advance” if he needs to take over when leaving the motorway or when a storm is approaching.
The Apple car will center around a powerful on-board computer, internally referred to as the Denali, which has processing power equivalent to about four high-end Mac chips. The vehicle’s chip, which is coupled with lidar and radar sensors along with cameras, is reportedly nearing production readiness. Tesla’s Autopilot system, meanwhile, relies solely on cameras.
Apple had originally expected the car to start at over $120,000, but is now hoping to get the price tag below $100,000, according to the Bloomberg story. The design has yet to be finalized, but Apple appears to have abandoned its original plans for a pod-like vehicle similar to the Canoo Lifestyle Vehicle in favor of a more traditional car shape. Apple appears to intend to finalize the design next year and lock in features by the end of 2024 before embarking on a testing program in 2025. Apple is also said to still be looking for a partner to provide an electric skateboard platform. Approximately 1000 employees are focused on the Apple car, with Apple investing approximately $1 billion in the project each year. However, Apple has faced a myriad of challenges in the eight years it has been working on Titan and still has a long way to go before the Apple car becomes a reality.
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