The eponymous “Apple Car” looks more and more of a reality. Apple, known for its expansive ecosystem that spans tablets, smartphones, laptops, and desktop computers, is widely expected to launch its first all-electric vehicle in 2025.
Rumors of the Apple Car have been circulating for several years now, but the company is now prepared to accelerate development and focus on releasing it by 2025. Industry experts believe that Apple will release a fully electric, self-driving vehicle to mark its foray into the automobile sector. But, can it compete with the likes of Tesla or Rivian? Or, can it even build and release the Apple Car by 2025?
The Apple Car Is Real, But It’s Been a Difficult Start
The Apple Car project hasn’t exactly had a smooth ride, so to speak. Project leadership has changed hands several times, with many doubting whether the car would ever see the light of day. Originally, Doug Field was hired to lead the project in 2018. Field worked on developing and producing the Tesla Model 3 and was widely expected to lead development until its completion.
Apple planned to explore two different electric car variants: one with limited autonomy that required human intervention to drive and another with full self-driving capabilities that required no driver input. However, after the latest shakeup, it is expected that the company will solely focus on developing a fully autonomous vehicle with self-driving capabilities.
Apple’s “Project Titan” kicked off in 2014 with Bob Mansfield, Apple’s former Senior Vice President of Technologies. Back then, Apple focused on building the underlying technology to power its self-driving car instead of focusing on car production entirely.
Then, Doug Field joined in 2018 after Mansfield’s retirement and brought with him former executives from Tesla responsible for car exterior, interior, drivetrains, and software. Mansfield’s retirement paved the way for John Giannandrea, who oversees artificial intelligence at the company.
Kevin Lynch Takes the Helm to Oversee Development
However, Doug Field, who was overseeing development and production on the Apple Car project, moved to Ford in July 2021, according to a report by Bloomberg. Kevin Lynch, the man who spearheaded the development of the Apple Watch, took the helm in his stead.
Lynch will reportedly oversee hardware development and engineering for the Apple Car and lend his expertise to produce and develop the sensors to be installed in the car. Lynch has been at Apple for almost a decade, joining the company in 2013. Prior to that, he worked on Adobe’s Creative Cloud, so he’s a software man all around.
It is widely expected that in addition to Apple Car, Lynch will continue to oversee the Apple Watch and the company’s health divisions. However, it is perhaps the first serious shift made by upper management, signaling intent to push forth with the program.
The Apple Car Has Been Pushed Back
Initially, it looked like Apple was on schedule to roll out the car by 2025. By late 2020, despite the roaring pandemic, Apple was negotiating deals with a number of manufacturers for sourcing components and manufacturing.
However, by 2021, the signs didn’t seem that promising. Many who had originally expected production to begin within three years now report that production is unlikely to be complete by 2025. Then, three of Apple’s project managers left, and filings with the California Department of Motor Vehicles revealed that testing was nowhere close to completion on public roads, and the technology was way behind that of other competitors like Waymo.
This prompted a change, with Apple bringing on Lynch to shore up the software side of the project. Ulrich Kranz, who once worked on BMW’s electric car division, was also brought on to the project.
Will The Apple Car Release by 2025?
Fully self-driving cars are still years away. Tesla, the market leader in the electric car space, is now offering “full self-driving mode” for $10,000. For some, that might seem misleading because it’s not fully self-driving today.
In its current state, the software is consistent in terms of performance, with turn signals going on or off, forward collisions going off randomly, or the vehicle braking randomly at times. Needless to say, with Tesla not being able to crack full self-driving yet, what chance does Apple have?
Honestly, not a lot. Despite being a hotly anticipated product, the Apple Car is unlikely to release on schedule by 2025. Waymo, a self-driving venture by Alphabet, has also been unable to crack self-driving as yet.
After years of testing, Waymo has been unable to expand its taxi service outside of Phoenix, Arizona, where it first launched, highlighting the complications associated with self-driving software development.
Apple Car: Behind Schedule, Affected by Global Supply Chain Issues
The Apple Car seems well behind schedule, and global circumstances have likely exacerbated Apple’s problems. The COVID-19 pandemic, global chip shortage, supply chain problems, and the increased power usage restrictions in China are likely to contribute to the delay.
Apple now uses its own silicon chips instead of relying on Intel processors. It’s highly likely that the Apple Car will do the same. Unfortunately, that’ll place more strain on the company’s supply chain. To make matters worse, China now requires major Apple suppliers like Foxconn and Pegatron to scale back production.
Chip shortages already affected the company’s bottom line in 2021, with the company revising its production goals by 10 million units for the iPhone 13. However, Apple has been very careful to prevent leaks and keep the project well under wraps in the “Special Projects Group,” so there hasn’t been any official word from the company about it either.
Expect an Eco-Friendly Apple Car, But Later Than 2025
Apple has been working to adopt a more eco-friendly approach towards its manufacturing and packaging. The Apple Car, whenever it releases, is expected to be made using recyclable materials and sustainable practices. Still, with Apple keeping its card to its chest, we’ll be waiting for some time for more information.
Buying a brand new product is rarely good for the environment. But as far as smartphones go, the iPhone 13 offers a lot of environmental benefits.
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