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(Pocket-lint) - Apple is trying to revolutionise the car, or at least that's what all the leaks and rumours indicate. Here's what you need to know.

Is Apple really developing a car?

  • Yes, it's been exploring the idea since 2014
  • The project, Titan, has morphed over the years
  • Currently, Apple is focusing on an autonomous car

Several reports since at least 2014 have claimed that Apple is not only poaching former Tesla employees and hiring automotive experts but has also quietly started up a research lab filled with hundreds of Apple employees all working on a secretive project codenamed Titan. What's more, the noise around the project has been getting louder. It's now believed that Project Titan will result in an autonomous electric vehicle, often referred to as Apple Car.  

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The most recent reports suggest Apple is accelerating its plans to develop an electric car with full self-driving capabilities - even going so far as trying to solve various challenges that have plagued the auto industry. In fact, over the past seven years, Apple's car team has explored creating a car that's fully self-driving and doesn’t require human intervention. The effort's newest leader, Apple Watch executive Kevin Lynch, is pushing forward with this approach. 

Apple's engineers are now concentrating on a fully self-driving system. But this is just the latest shift for Project Titan, which is cursed, if you will, thanks to several strategy changes and leadership shuffles since the very beginning. Just this September, the former head of the project, Doug Field, reportedly left for a job at Ford. Lynch is his replacement, and he's going after the white whale of the auto industry: Truly autonomous capabilities. 

It's worth noting Tesla has been attempting to offer fully self-driving cars, but it's years away from actually delivering on that promise. Alphabet's Waymo, too, has been exploring self-driving capabilities. Uber was dabbling in this space as well, but it agreed to sell off its autonomous-driving division last year.

Will Apple's car definitely be electric?

  • Apple's car has been rumoured to be an EV
  • It will be compatible with the CCS standard
  • Apple has a special interest in battery tech

Yes. All signs point to Apple's car being fully electric.

Most recently, Apple is thought to have discussed its car being compatible with the combined charging system standard, so it would work at most charging stations. It's also made several hires and, according to several reports, has spent a lot of time and resources researching batteries and battery technology

Vanarama Project Titan: What's happening with Apple's autonomous electric car? photo 2

What will Apple's car look like?

  • It might not have a steering wheel or pedals
  • It could have a roomy interior like Canoo's
  • Thought to include an iPad-like touch screen

There have been many artists' interpretations of what a potential "Apple Car" could look like, some of which were based on actual reporting. It's changed over the years, too. But it's hard to say, for certain, what Apple is designing for a car. Reportedly, its ideal car will be electric and fully autonomous, and, crucially, it'd have no steering wheel or pedals. Apple has reportedly discussed equipping the car with an emergency takeover mode, however.

Apple's car would also have a spacious, social interior - one very similar to the Lifestyle Vehicle from Canoo, a startup in the EV industry. In that car, passengers sit along the sides and face each other like in a limousine. Apple is also rumoured to be including a large iPad-like touch screen for the infotainment center, and it'd, of course, tie the car to its existing services. Finally, the latest reports suggest Apple's car will feature a special processor. 

In fact, the company is said to have reached a key milestone in developing the car’s processor and has even completed much of the work.

This car chip, which was designed by Apple’s silicon engineering group, has been described as the most advanced component that Apple has ever developed internally. It is supposedly made up of neural processors that can handle the artificial intelligence needed for autonomous driving. Apple likely wants to ship its first-generation car with this chip and is currently expected to start using the new processor in road tests in California soon.

Perhaps it will test the chip on the fleet of 69 Lexus SUVs that it's been using in self-driving experiments.

Is Apple building its own car?

  • The company will likely rely on partnerships
  • It might be built in the US
  • Expect strong safeguards

Apple reportedly hopes to develop a vehicle for consumers, but it might rely on partnerships, perhaps even multiple manufacturers, with building the actual vehicle. It's thought to have considered building it in the US, too. According to the most recent reports, Apple is also looking to build in stronger safeguards than what’s available from Tesla and Waymo. It's also actively looking to hire engineers to test and develop safety functions.

When will Apple's car be available?

  • Could debut by 2025
  • The hope is for it to be fully autonomous
  • Apple might introduce a car with lesser tech

Currently, reports say Apple is internally targeting a launch of its self-driving electric car in four years. Other reports have said five to seven years. That means, at the earliest, Apple should debut its car in 2025. That all depends on the company’s ability to finish work on a fully self-driving system.

Ultimately, Apple could either delay a release or perhaps even sell a car that doesn't have all the self-driving features it had initially envisioned.  But, as mentioned earlier, Project Titan has suffered from many development challenges and leadership struggles over its seven-year history.

Lynch, for instance, is now the fifth executive to take charge of the effort.

Under his stewardship, Apple seems keener than ever to release an autonomous EV. If it actually does remains to be seen. 

Unsplash Project Titan: What's happening with Apple's autonomous electric car? photo 1

What's the latest news about Apple's car?

Here is a full timeline of the most notable news reports and leaks concerning Apple's rumoured autonomous EV:

19 November 2021 - Apple's autonomous electric car could debut in 2025 with no steering wheel

Apple has reportedly done "much of the core work" needed on a new processor that will power a future autonomous electric car.

The best electric cars 2022: Top battery-powered vehicles available on UK roads

11 November 2021 - Is this what the Apple Car will look like?

The model is based on official Apple patents and the concept details both the exterior and interior of the car.

13 August 2021 - Apple executives are in Korea negotiating Apple Car production plans

Industry sources have said that executives from Apple have been in Korea recently to negotiate plans for electric car component manufacturing. 

14 April 2021 - Apple Car: Will Apple actually announce a fully-autonomous EV soon?

No, Apple isn't making an electric car. Instead, Project Titan is an effort to develop autonomous driving systems.

13 April 2021 - LG Magna e-Powertain could power the Apple car

Sources in Korea suggest that LG Electronics and Magna International could sign a contract that will see involvement in early Apple Car models.

26 February 2021 - Kia talks maybe not over?

Korean publication ChosunBiz suggests that there are still ongoing negotiations between Kia and Apple and a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed last year. The website quotes a source saying the negotiations are "experiencing difficulties" but are not over.