Apple aims to launch self-driving electric car in 2025, says report

The vehicle is rumoured to have no steering wheel or pedals, and the interior has a U-shaped seating plan

Apple is stepping up its plans to enter the car market and aims to launch a self-driving electric vehicle in 2025, according to a report.

The tech company’s much-rumoured automotive project has bolstered its ambitions under new leadership and is pushing for a fully self-driving vehicle with no steering wheel or pedals, said Bloomberg. The car’s interior would be designed for hands-off driving, with one possible design featuring passengers sitting around a U-shaped seating formation.

Apple’s below-the-radar car venture – known as Project Titan – was dealt an apparent blow in September when the executive in charge of its development, Doug Field, defected to Ford. But the iPhone maker appears undaunted by the challenge of entering the competitive electric vehicle market despite a number of senior leadership changes at Titan this year, Field’s the most significant among them.

Bloomberg reported that the ambitious targets have been set by Field’s replacement, the Apple Watch software executive Kevin Lynch. He is aiming for a fully self-driving car within four years – if the company can pull off a self-driving system within that timeframe.

“We continue to believe it’s a matter of when, not if, Apple enters the EV [electric vehicle] race,” said Dan Ives, analyst at US investment firm Wedbush Securities. Ives added that Apple would be better off teaming up with a rival like Tesla or Volkswagen, given the challenges involved. Bloomberg reported that Apple has discussed partnerships with manufacturers.

“We would rather see Apple partner on the EV path than start building its own vehicles/factories, given the margin and financial model implications down the road, coupled with the strategic product risk around such a gargantuan endeavour,” Ives said.

The Bloomberg report said some people working on the project were skeptical about the timeline even with recent progress – such as the car’s underlying self-driving system, processor chips and advanced sensors.

Electric vehicles have received considerable investor backing, helping make Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, the world’s richest man and giving startling stock market valuations to unproven electric vehicle firms such as Lucid and Rivian, whose market capitalisations are rivalling those of established, decades-old players.

One of the car interiors being pondered by Apple, according to Bloomberg, is similar to the “lifestyle” model designed by an electric vehicle startup, Canoo. Described by Canoo as a “loft on wheels”, the vehicle has a U-shaped seating arrangement at the back.

Apple has been working on Titan since 2014 but few details have emerged of the venture, with executive appointments and departures largely used as a proxy for its progress. However, in 2015, the Guardian revealed that Apple was working on a self-driving vehicle and was scouting secure locations in the San Francisco Bay area for testing.

Apple declined to comment on the Bloomberg report.


Extracted from The Guardian

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