Apple has reportedly set a target date for it to produce a passenger carrying vehicle, in what could be an important development in the transportation industry.
Apple’s self-driving car program (Project Titan) had been expected to produce an electric car sometime in 2019.
But now it is reported that Apple has set the date of 2024 for the passenger vehicle that could include self-driving technology, as well as breakthrough battery technology.
Ever since 2015, Apple had been rumoured to be releasing an electric car sometime in 2019.
Rumours were strengthened in July 2015 when CEO Tim Cook was in spotted in Germany, amid reports that Apple was close to agreeing a partnership with BMW.
Apple was reportedly going to use the BMW i3 vehicle as the basis for its long rumoured ‘Apple Car’.
That partnership would have solved the manufacturing issue, as Apple doesn’t actually make its own devices. Most of its iPhones for example are made by a third party (Foxconn etc).
Car makers on the other hand have their own purpose-built factories and build their own products, and the BMW tie up would have solved Apple’s lack of experience in building actual vehicles.
But in 2019 (the year when its first car was expected) Apple revealed it had scaled back its ambitions at Project Titan, and was laying off 190 people from the team.
But Project Titan was not dead, and now Apple is targeting 2024 to produce a passenger vehicle that could include its own breakthrough battery technology, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
Apple is reportedly aiming to build a vehicle for consumers, two people familiar with the effort said, asking not to be named because Apple’s plans are not public.
And it seems that Apple reportedly has a breakthrough in battery technology that it hopes to exploit.
According to Reuters, central to Apple’s strategy is a new battery design that could “radically” reduce the cost of batteries and increase the vehicle’s range, according to a third person who has seen Apple’s battery design.
It is reported that Apple’s battery plan is to use a unique “monocell” design that bulks up the individual cells in the battery and frees up space inside the battery pack by eliminating pouches and modules that hold battery materials, one of the people told Reuters.
This design would mean that Apple could package more active material inside the battery, thus giving he vehicle potentially a longer range.
Apple is also examining a chemistry for the battery called LFP, or lithium iron phosphate, the person told Reuters, which is inherently less likely to overheat and is thus safer than other types of lithium-ion batteries.
”It’s next level,” the person said of Apple’s battery technology. “Like the first time you saw the iPhone.”
Apple reportedly declined to comment on its plans or future products.
With Apple reportedly targetting an EV launch in the next four years, one expert warned that as more companies look to enter the EV market, a universal charging network will be critical to make widespread adoption viable.
“The appetite for electric vehicles (EVs) has been growing and for them to become widely available, affordability will need to be a priority alongside making EV charging points more accessible, commented Oliver Shaw, CEO at Kalibrate, a global data provider for fuel and convenience retailers.
“Apple already boasts a strong brand reputation and loyal customer base globally, which will help draw sales as drivers assess their options,” said Shaw. “However, the company will have to find a way to work alongside refuelling stations, convenience retailers and governments to realise its ambitious new venture. There is no denying that EVs need to make up a significant part of our roads in the future, but we have a long way to go yet before they are a viable option for all consumers.”
“If Apple’s battery is able to increase journey times and reduce charging time, it could address pain points that may have deterred consumers from EVs up until now,” Shaw added. “For fuel retailers, it will be key to prepare for new entrants, such as Apple, into the EV production and charging market.”
“They will need to ensure that electric forecourts are able to cater for a plethora of different car models that drivers will be looking to recharge,” said Shaw. “Moving forward, a universal charging network will be critical as the grid continues to grow to make the widescale adoption of EVs viable. In using a data-driven approach, retailers can get a better understanding of their customers and ultimately provide a service station experience that caters for a new wave of EV drivers.”
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