Apple Car Overview Updated March 29, 2021

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154 'Apple Car' stories

February 2015 - April 2021

Apple Car concept image

Despite years of speculation about an Apple Car, we still have little hard information about Apple’s plans.

When did the rumors begin?

The first reports date back to early 2015, when a camera-festooned car was shown to be leased to Apple. While some believed this was for Apple Maps, others suggested it looked more like a test-bed for a self-driving car. Shortly afterwards, Apple was found to be poaching Tesla engineers., and we uncovered a significant number of senior automotive hires.

What is Apple up to?

This is the $64,000 question. We know for sure that Apple is very actively exploring some kind of move into the automotive sector, but it’s still not 100% clear that the company plans to go as far as launching a car, which consumers will be able to buy.

We’ve seen three main possibilities suggested:

Some kind of car technology, but not a car

The first suggestion is that Apple wants to create some kind of car tech, but not go as far as actually making a car. Some believe Apple’s primary interest is in the in-car experience as the world transitions to self-driving cars – a kind of CarPlay on steroids, if you will. Others believe there is enough evidence that Apple is working on self-driving technology, but that it will license this to other companies, rather than make its own car.

Ride-sharing cars

The second possibility is that Apple plans to make cars, but not for retail sale. One obvious market for autonomous cars is ride sharing, so it’s possible that Apple plans to make a self-driving car for a ride-sharing service, but we wouldn’t be able to buy one.

A car for retail sale

The third option, of course, is a full-on car that consumers can lease or buy outright. It’s this possibility which has understandably lead to the greatest amount of debate and excitement.

Who would make it?

Assuming Apple does plan to actually make a car, it would partner with a manufacturing company to actually produce the vehicles. Here there are two possible routes the company could take.

Partner with an established brand

Apple has been reported to have discussed a possible partnership with a wide range of established carmakers. These include Hyundai/Kia, Nissan, BMW, and Canoo.

The Hyundai/Kia idea was once presented as if it were almost a done deal, before later being dismissed – though there remains some minor partnership talk.

The big stumbling block here appears to be branding. Existing car brands would be reluctant to be relegated to the role of a contract manufacturer, where Apple makes all the decisions and the car has only Apple branding.

Use a contract manufacturer

The other, perhaps more likely, possibility is that Apple commissions a contract manufacturer to build the cars, just as it uses companies like Foxconn and Pegatron to make iPhones and other Apple products.

Foxconn is known to be working on electric car production, but likely working more at the lower end of the market. Magna is one of the best-known contract manufacturers able to build models for premium brands, and so appears a likely contender.

What have existing car makers said?

Unsurprisingly, almost all are claiming not to be worried. For example, BMW’s CFO says he “sleeps peacefully” while VW says the company isn’t afraid. Toyota thinks Apple doesn’t understand that you have to be ready to provide 40 years of after-sales support for a car, where Apple tends to discontinue support five to seven years after it ceases to sell a particular model.

In reality, of course, any premium brand car maker has to be sweating right now. Tesla is the only car company to openly admit that Apple will pose extremely tough competition.

When would an Apple Car be launched?

This too is one of the Big Questions. In 2015, some suggested an Apple Car might go on sale as early as 2020, which of course didn’t happen. A variety of other dates have been suggested, from 2024 through 2026 to 2028 or beyond.

With no deal apparently yet struck, and no leaks of anything specific, it is certainly clear that Apple is nowhere close to a launch anytime soon.

Concept image: CarWow

Apple Car Stories April 5

In a new interview with Kara Swisher on the Sway podcast, Apple CEO Tim Cook addresses the upcoming lawsuit with Epic Games, the controversy over iOS 14.5’s App Tracking Transparency policies, and more.

In regard to Apple’s interest in self-driving cars and autonomous driving, Swisher asks Cook what he thinks of Elon Musk. Cook said that he has great admiration for Tesla, even though he has never spoken to Elon Musk himself.

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Apple Car Stories March 29

We’ve seen plenty of Apple Car concept images over the years, but a leasing comparison site has put together a somewhat bizarre mix of mashups between existing cars and assorted Apple products.

We commissioned these renders of potential Apple EV concepts, mashing up some popular car models with familiar Apple products! Can you picture any of these racing down the motorway… ?

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Apple Car Stories March 16

Infrared headlights could allow an Apple Car autonomous driving system to “see” three times farther at night than a human driver.

Apple was today granted a patent for the night vision system that combines visible light, near-infrared (NIR), and long-wave infrared (LWIR) sensors for a comprehensive view of what lays ahead …

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Apple Car Stories March 11

Apple is widely expected to enter the car industry sometime over the next decade, and legacy automakers have largely said they welcome the competition. Speaking during a news conference today, Toyota President Akio Toyoda said that Apple should be prepared to offer support for Apple Car models for 40 years…

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Apple Car Stories March 9

An Apple Car patent granted today describes smart in-car lighting, able to intelligently determine what the occupants are likely to want or need at any given moment.

One example cited in the patent describes a frustrating experience we’ve all had …

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Apple Car Stories March 8

BMW’s CFO is the latest automaker executive to downplay the threat of a potential Apple Car. As reported by Bloomberg, Nicolas Peter said in an interview that he sleeps “very peacefully” despite the growing rumors of Apple’s plans to build an autonomous electric vehicle.

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