With the nascent electric vehicle sector poised to grow exponentially over the next decade, a couple of firms companies that haven’t been in the automotive sector have thrown their hats into the electric vehicle ring. Amazon, for instance, has invested billions of dollars in Rivian, an EV startup that will build electric vans, pickup trucks and SUVs. A new report from Bloomberg indicates that Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) is working on an autonomous electric vehicle that will launch in 2025.
Although Apple hasn’t confirmed whether or not it will launch a self-driving EV by 2025, the Bloomberg report says that the technology company is fast-tracking its plans to enter the vehicle market. According to Bloomberg, Apple’s vehicle engineers have explored two types of EVs: a model with limited self-driving capabilities and a greater focus on acceleration and steering, and a model with complete self-driving capabilities that doesn’t need any human intervention.
While the first concept is similar to most of the electric vehicles on the market, no company has developed a fully autonomous EV so far. EV pioneer Tesla Inc. has been working on the technology, but a recent review of Tesla’s self-driving tech has raised concerns about its safety.
With new leadership at the helm of Apple’s car program, Bloomberg says, the tech company is pushing to launch a fully autonomous EV with no pedals or steering wheels. The interior of the EV would be designed for autonomous, hands-off driving, with one possible design usin a U-shaped sitting formation. Dubbed the Special Projects Group, or Project Titan, the car program is now under the lead of Apple Watch software executive Kevin Lynch after Doug Field, the former development executive, left Apple for Ford. Under Lynch’s lead, Apple engineers are working on a full self-driving system.
Dan Ives, an analyst at investment firm Wedbush Securities, says Apple’s entry into the electric vehicle market is a guarantee. Additionally, the technology company would be better off partnering with an automaker to avoid the logistical challenges involved in building factories and mass-producing EVs. The Bloomberg report claims that Apple has already discussed the option of teaming up with manufacturers. According to Ives, going it alone would be a “gargantuan endeavor” for Apple.
Some of the people working on Project Titan are skeptical of its success even though Apple has made plenty of progress on its self-driving system, Bloomberg states, including a breakthrough on the chips used to run the system. Apple has left the option of selling an EV with less technology or pushing back the release date if it cannot perfect the self-driving technology in time.
Competition looks to be gathering steam in the sector, and Apple is likely to face off with other EV makers such as NIO Inc. (NYSE: NIO) for the hearts and pockets of buyers.
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