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Report: 2024 Could Be the Year of the Apple Car

2024: the Year of the iCar?
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Francis Scialabba

· 3 min read

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Will 2024 be the Year of the iCar?

Reuters reports that the company is moving forward with plans for an Apple-branded passenger vehicle, complete with self-driving capabilities and “breakthrough” battery technology.

The long and winding road

It’s been about six years since Apple launched Project Titan, its electric and autonomous vehicle effort. Since then, the path has been more dirt road than Sunday drive. There’s been a reported scaledown in project scope, leadership shake-ups, and in 2019, nearly 200 layoffs.

  • But a former Project Titan employee told Ryan that the autonomy team has been full-steam ahead for years: “One misconception is that Apple ever stopped or put a brake on autonomy development. That’s a false narrative.”

Tech developments have Apple feeling ambitious enough to internally target 2024 for mass-market vehicle production, pending additional Covid-19 delays, reports Reuters.

But, but, but: The auto industry is tough to break into and even tougher to secure a foothold in. Apple would likely tap a manufacturing partner and outsource certain system elements, such as lidar sensors, but the company would still face supply chain struggles.

Then again, nothing’s impossible, especially for—subtle flex—the world’s most valuable company. And Apple’s reportedly got a pocket ace…

The “monocell” battery

Think: Steve Jobs’s minimalist approach to Mac design...but for a car battery pack. It cuts down on internal containers and pouches, which frees up space for more “active material” that could extend vehicle range and lower battery costs, reports Reuters.

Plus: It may be safer. Apple is reportedly exploring a battery chemistry called lithium iron phosphate (LFP), which is less likely to overheat than other lithium-ion options.

Vroom out

Apple’s stock closed high on Monday, while Tesla’s dropped. And after reports that Apple may seek a partnership for sensor tech, stock soared for lidar startups like Velodyne (~23%) and Luminar (27+%).

Worth noting: There’s always a chance Apple could narrow the focus to its autonomous driving system and partner with an existing manufacturer, rather than produce its own vehicle.

But the former Project Titan employee believes the team is set up for success due to advantages in the most important pieces of the puzzle: user experience and autonomous tech.

  • “The hardware is the least important of all, as in, who is making the car,” the source said. “Apple will own the design, experience, and technology—the autonomy. That’s the killer combination.”
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