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The move would challenge rivals such as Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo (which has built a robo-taxi to carry passengers for driverless ride hailing service). (Demo image)
- According to reports, the company can help a manufacturing partner to assemble a car
- The car will also include LIDAR sensors, which will help self-driving cars take a 3D view of the road.
Apple Inc. is moving forward with self-driving car technology. The company aims to build a passenger vehicle by 2024, which may incorporate the company’s own battery technology. Sources informed of this development informed Reuters about this.
The iPhone manufacturer’s automotive efforts, better known as Project Titan, have moved unevenly since 2014 when it first began designing its vehicle from scratch. At one point, Apple withdrew the effort to focus on the software and regain its goals. Doug Field, an Apple veteran who worked at Tesla Inc., returned to oversee the project in 2018 and fired 190 people from the team in 2019.
Since then, Apple has made so much progress that it now aims to create a vehicle for consumers, with two people familiar with the effort saying that it will not be named as Apple’s plans are not public. Apple aims to build a personal vehicle to challenge rivals such as Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo (which built a robo-taxi to carry passengers for driverless ride hailing service).
Apple battery will provide more range
According to the third person (who has seen Apple’s battery design) – Central to Apple’s strategy is a new battery design that can reduce battery costs and increase vehicle range. However, Apple declined to comment on its plans or Future Products.
Vehicle manufacturing also represents a supply chain challenge for Apple, as a company that makes millions of electronics products every year, but has never produced a car.
Project is not easy for Apple
- A person working on Project Titan said, “If there is a company on the planet that has the resources to do this, then it is probably Apple. But it is also important to understand that making a cellphone is not as easy.
- It is not clear who will assemble the Apple-branded car at the moment, a source said, but sources said they expected the company to rely on a manufacturing partner to manufacture the vehicles.
- There is still a chance Apple may decide to reduce the scope of its efforts to an autonomous driving system that will integrate with a car made by a traditional automaker, rather than an iPhone manufacturer selling Apple-branded cars.
Production-sourced can start late
- Two people aware of Apple’s plans warned of delays related to the epidemic, which could lead to the start of production in 2025 or more. Apple has decided to tap outside partners for elements of the system, including LIDAR sensors that help self-driving cars get a 3D view of the road.
- Another person said that Apple’s car may have multiple LIDAR sensors to scan various distances. Some sensors can be obtained from Apple’s internally developed LIDAR units. Apple’s iPhone 12 Pro and iPad Pro models were released this year and both have LIDAR sensors.
- Reuters previously reported that Apple had negotiated with potential LIDAR suppliers, but was also investigating the manufacture of its own sensors.
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The company is preparing the next level battery
- One source says that – for the car’s battery, Apple plans to use a unique “monocell” design, which lifts up individual cells in the battery and eliminates the pouches and modules that hold the battery material Freeing up space inside the battery pack.
- Apple’s design means that more active materials can be packed inside the battery, allowing the car to potentially travel longer distances. Apple is also investigating a chemistry for a battery called LFP, or lithium iron phosphate.
- Said the person, who is naturally less likely to overheat and is thus safer than other types of lithium ion batteries. Source said of Apple’s battery technology – “It’s the next level, just like when you first saw the iPhone.”
- Apple previously involved Magna International Inc. in talks about making the car, but due to Apple’s plans not being clear, one person spoke of becoming familiar with those previous efforts. Magna did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
- To turn a profit, automotive contract manufacturers often ask for versions that can also present a challenge for Apple, which will be a new competition for the automotive market. To be a viable assembly plant, you need 100,000 vehicles per year.