For many years, since at least 2014, Apple has been rumored to be working on an electric car, the kind that would compete with Tesla’s offerings, only with self-driving properties as well. The company, however, has said little, and journalists, analysts and other observers have had to rely on opaque statements from Apple executives, as well as job listings and LinkedIn updates, for clues as to what was going on with the initiative.
In recent years, indications have been that Apple was working not on an actual physical car but rather a new type of self-driving car technology. Meanwhile, Apple announced earlier this month that the Project Titan division, which is responsible for the car project, has been moved under the supervision of Apple’s artificial intelligence chief, John Giannandrea. However, executive Doug Field, who formerly worked for Tesla, remains responsible day to day for the project.
Now, some new reporting suggests that Apple is going ahead with the actual car after all, one that will be based on the idea of a “radically” reduced cost of batteries and much greater range. It remains, however, far away.
According to a report by Reuters Monday, Apple is “moving forward” with its self-driving car efforts, and is “targeting 2024 to produce a passenger vehicle that could include its own breakthrough battery technology.”
The report cited “people familiar with the matter.”
In addition, Reuters said that Apple will likely find a manufacturing partner to assist in the building of the cars, and there remains a chance that Apple could back off and merely license a self-driving system to a different automaker.
Analysts reacted Monday to the report.
“It has long been the auto and tech hardware teams’ collective working assumption that Apple will, one day, design and engineer a car…,” Adam Jonas of Morgan Stanley said in a note, as reported by PED 3.0. “Apple possesses the key ingredients that we believe are critical to be successful in the future auto industry… The EV arms race is still in the early stages and the battery technology is not mature…”
Gene Munster of Loup Ventures, who has long followed Apple, also addressed the car report.
“While the timing of an Apple car or a software licensing approach for traditional automakers is hard to predict, we continue to believe it’s likely Apple has a business related to autonomous vehicles in the next decade,” Munster wrote.
However, Munster noted that there are lessons in the car plans from Apple projects in the past, including Apple’s attempts to produce a TV, a project about which Munster often wrote, but which never came to fruition.
“In the end, I was wrong,” Munster wrote. “Apple never did a TV. As talk of Apple Car gains momentum, I’m reminded of a valuable lesson I learned the hard way: just because Apple is working on a product doesn’t mean it will see the light of day.”
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.