Remember the Apple Car? Yeah, it kind of dropped off of our radar too. It is the electric vehicle that Apple has been developing since at least 2017. That’s when it received a permit from California to begin autonomous vehicle testing. Word on the street was that the Apple Car would be available some time before 2025. Now they say the Apple Car will be here next year.
Is production of proprietary Apple vehicle components being fast-tracked?
Now according to Taiwan’s Economic Daily News, they say a director at a large Taiwanese parts manufacturer says Apple wants the cars to be available by September 2021. Production of proprietary Apple vehicle components is being fast-tracked in Taiwan for the September debut.
Over the years shots of Lexus SUVs with LiDAR self-driving equipment have been spotted in and around California. But let’s be honest; it’s a big jump going from using Lexus SUVs as test mules to creating an entire car.
And there are other factors that bring this latest news into question. For one, if production were to start up in a few months a factory would already be planning for automobile production. There are no factories setting up for Apple Car assembly that we know of.
At this point there would have been prototypes spotted
Another factor that makes this a bit sketchy is that at this point there would have been prototypes spotted. Not the Lexus SUVs testing autonomous driving equipment but prototypes plying the highways in camo. So far, there have been no sightings of any new vehicles that don’t match what we are already seeing.
Development and production cycles for new automobiles take around three years. It has been hard for established manufacturers to shorten that development time. Who knows, there could be testing going on in other parts of the world, but it’s doubtful.
Another indicator that the Apple Car is further off than 2021 is that DigiTimes recently reported that Apple was “in preliminary negotiations with automotive electronics suppliers.” That’s a sure indication that we are further off seeing the Apple Car than September of 2021. As an aside the report also indicated chipmaker TSMC is working on a self-driving chip for the Apple Car. That makes it sound like this technology is still in an early- to the mid-development stage.
Is it actually an electronics manufacturer building cars?
But the other way to see it is that if you look at Tesla, many say it is not an auto manufacturer but is actually an electronics manufacturer building cars. If you look at it that way then it would seem that Apple might take a different path to build the Apple Car.
That’s because developing electronic equipment is different from developing vehicles. Maybe there’s a secret shortcut when approached as electronics rather than rust belt manufacturing? We’re just riffing at this point but you get the idea. When you look at a Tesla Model 3 as just a big piece of electronics it puts it in an entirely different mental category. What we can say is that we are anxiously awaiting the arrival of the gang of new EVs set to hit the market over the next few years.