Apple’s products are typically small enough to fit in a pocket, on your wrist, in a bag, or at worst atop a desk. But the company’s next big thing may be truly massive indeed: a car.
Well, reportedly. Apple car rumours have popped up here and there for years, and Steve Jobs even considered building one way back when – but, in early 2015, the rumours picked up incredible steam, with major publications reporting details on Apple’s supposed plans to create electric, and maybe eventually self-driving cars.
And the reports haven’t stopped coming, either – although the focus has changed: Apple might have shifted its focus to autonomous car software rather than building a fully fledged car, but it all sounds very much in limbo right now.
Want to get caught up on everything iCar? Here’s a look at the top details we’ve heard about the Apple Car.
WHAT WE KNOW
We’ve heard about this since the start of 2015 from many different reports and, while the specifics have changed, here’s what we know: Apple is (or was) working on some kind of car. “Project Titan” is probably an electric car, and it might be a self-driving car – although later reports suggested that going autonomous is more of a far-off goal.
Whatever the first form may be, if Apple really is working on a car of its own, that’s obviously huge news.
Hundreds of people are working on the project
Titan doesn’t appear to be a pet project, either: in September 2015, the Wall Street Journal reported that Apple would triple the size of its car team, which at that point already numbered 600 people. Since then, there’s been talk of departures amidst shifting priorities, and that the team was closer to 1,000 people as of October 2016. That’s still a ton of surely-talented folks working on something big.
In 2015, reports claimed that Apple was in negotiations with BMW to base the Apple Car on the BMW i3, not unlike how the initial Tesla Roadster was based on the Lotus Elise. However, that deal reportedly fell apart as Apple didn’t want to cede control over the software.
So the company might be considering a different route: reports in September 2016 claimed that Apple was in talks to acquire McLaren and put its considerable design prowess into building a car for a surely less-wealthy audience.
Or maybe it won’t be a car?
A report in October 2016 claimed that Apple might pivot away from releasing its own physical car, and instead refocus Project Titan to deliver software to power other companies’ self-driving cars. According to the story, Apple has currently tabled the physical car but will make a final decision by late 2017.
It’s just not a very Apple-like move, given its history of wanting to control both the hardware and software of an experience.
Apple hasn’t officially announced anything here, of course, although Tim Cook did comment on “exploring products” when asked about it, and said that Apple looks into a lot of different markets.
But, then, in December 2016, the company sent a letter to U.S. transportation regulators saying it was “excited about the potential of automated systems in many areas, including transportation, and that there are “significant societal benefits of automated vehicles.”
It might come in 2021
A report in 2015 claimed that Apple wanted the car “ready to ship” in 2019, but it was unclear whether that meant just finalizing the design or quite literally getting it to consumers.
However, a more recent report claims that a 2021 debut is much more likely as Apple has dealt with road bumps and team shifts along the way. Building a car from scratch isn’t easy, and Apple will surely want to get it right before showing anything to anyone.
It will probably be expensive
We all know about the so-called “Apple tax,” right? Well, that’ll probably be the case with the Apple Car, as well. Tech analysts from Jefferies & Co estimated in 2015 that the car could come in around $55,000 when it eventually ships. That’s a lot more than the upcoming Tesla Model III at $35,000, but cheaper than the current entry-level Model S at $68,000.