Apple has made advances in its secret self-driving car project and is set to launch production by 2024, according to reports.
The iPhone maker has for years been rumoured to be working on a self-driving car programme known as Project Titan, although the company has never publicly acknowledged it.
Now, according to a report by Reuters, Apple has made enough progress in this project to actually aim to build a vehicle for consumers – even if doing so might be delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The mass market vehicle is different from other self-driving cars developed by companies such as Google’s Waymo, in that while it may have self-driving technology bundled with it, it will still be a normal car too.
It follows a report in Taiwan’s Economic Daily News, citing unnamed executives in the country’s manufacturing sector, claiming that Apple has been secretly testing dozens of prototype vehicles in California.
According to Reuters’ sources, the company has developed a new battery design that would “radically” reduce the cost of the electric car batteries as well as increase the vehicle’s range.
But the project would come with challenges and take Apple outside of its comfort zone in terms of establishing new supply chains that could enable it to produce vehicles rather than electronic gadgets.
Elon Musk’s Tesla took 17 years before it finally turned a profit making cars, as Reuters reported, due to the volume of vehicles that need to be produced for the manufacturing to become profitable.
It isn’t clear whether Apple would assemble the Apple-branded vehicle itself or turn to manufacturing partners, and the company could yet simply focus on developing an AI driving system that could be used with another company’s vehicles.
A car produced by Apple would be considered the company’s “next star product”, according to Ming-Chi Kuo, a veteran Apple analyst for TF International Securities.