Apple has been hiring engineers and automotive veterans for
years under what is widely believed to be called Project Titan. In fact,
the project has gone on so long that many of Apple's original hires
have since left the company. Notably, Apple poached Tesla veteran
Doug Field for VP of Special Projects, but Field left earlier this
year to serve as Chief Officer of Advanced Technology at Ford.
Apple then handed the project over to Kevin Lynch, the software
engineer responsible for the Apple Watch's software.
Under this new leadership, the report claims, Apple has settled
on the more ambitious of two potential plans: A fully autonomous
vehicle, rather than one that focuses only on driving assistance
similar to many vehicles sold today. The report says that if Apple
can't get its fully autonomous system done in time for the 2025
date it could either delay the car's release or sell one with
Apple currently tests autonomous vehicles in California, where
it has fewer than 70 autonomous vehicles registered
with the DMV, as of 2020. That's a pretty low number, though Apple
could have expanded its testing fleet in 2021.
Bloomberg's report claims that Apple's ideal car would have no
steering wheel at all, and Apple has explored several different
interior layouts and designs. People familiar with the matter claim
that Apple has reached a major milestone in its self-driving
system, completing the core work on the internally-designed
processor it intends to ship in the vehicle. The chip is the most
sophisticated Apple has yet developed and is expected to run hot
and require special cooling as Apple begins using it in retrofit
The project's timetable is still quite aggressive. It often
takes at least two or three years for an established car company to
go from a final prototype design it can show the public to mass
production and customer deliveries, and Apple is still a long way
from a completed design. The company will also need a car
production partner, which in itself could prove difficult
considering how demanding Apple can be over design details and
branding and how difficult it is to mass-produce cars at scale with
quality and price that meets Apple's standards.
The report offers other interesting tidbits, such as the fact
that the car is intended to use standard CCS charging systems and
that Apple considered taking the fleet of cars approach that would
see customers simply summoning rides similar to Uber or Lyft, but
has instead settled on making cars for individual ownership.
It seems like every time we hear new leaks about Apple's car,
the launch is just three or four years away. Apple's plans are
ambitious and it is clearly serious about this project, having
hired top talent for many years, but it never seems to inch closer
to the finish line.