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Apple Car lowdown – what’s really going on?

Will we ever see an Apple vehicle? And if so, what will it be like?

Things move fast in the world of Apple Car rumors. In early February, we heard Apple had thrown its lot in with Hyundai and Kia to build the thing. Then those companies slammed on the brakes, denying all claims.

But the more you skillfully steer through the rumor mill, you realize it’s running on fumes. It’s not that there is – nor that there never will be – an Apple Car. It’s just that the tank is empty (of facts). So what do we know for sure? And what might Apple Car look like when – if – it finally appears?

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Apple is definitely working on something

We do at least know Apple has an interest in cars. It’s reported that work began in earnest on ‘Project Titan’ back in 2014 – although there’s speculation Apple founder Steve Jobs was keen on the idea of an Apple vehicle as far back as 2008.

There’s plenty of talent on the project

Long-time Apple exec Bob Mansfield long headed up the team, which now sits under Apple AI/machine learning chief John Giannandrea. That’s capable leadership. Additionally, upwards of 1,000 employees have at various points been assigned to the project, including hires from Tesla and Porsche.

What Apple Car actually is keeps changing

We don’t know for sure what Apple Car is, was, or will be. But sources have stated that the project has shifted in terms of its primary goal several times, between one with the aim of creating an actual car and another that’s instead focusing on core technology like autonomous driving systems.

Who knows what we’ll eventually see from Apple

You won’t get to drive one any time soon

In the event Apple Car makes it to production, don’t expect it to rock up this year. The most wildly optimistic rumors suggest 2023 as the earliest date Apple Car might appear. More sensible guesswork points to a timespan closer to five or ten years.

Apple Car will accelerate the progress of car tech

Although Apple has an eye for industrial design, it’s a technology company at heart. It should therefore come as no surprise to hear Apple is looking to rethink core problems in car design. One such area is battery tech, where Apple’s reportedly working on a system to radically reduce costs and increase range.

Apple’s car ambitions go well beyond the depicted CarPlay.

It will drive an interface revolution

Reports claim Apple’s car will be entirely self-driving, to the point it won’t even have a steering wheel. Take that with a fistful of salt, but if there’s one thing Apple’s excelled at in recent years, it’s rethinking seemingly intractable interface conventions. It did so with cell phones, and so who knows how it’ll reimagine a car?

You’ll probably need an iPhone

One of the more contentious rumors is that Apple Car will require an iPhone. If you think transforming a car into an iPhone accessory is a step too far, you’re not alone. That said, don’t bet against Apple at least going heavy on deep iOS integration, so iPhone users get a superior experience, even if users of alternate platforms aren’t locked out entirely.

Apple Car won’t be cheap

Although Apple products can be good value, one thing the company never does is cheap. And at the premium end, Apple kit is often more expensive than people predict, because people will pay for quality and the brand. So however much you think Apple Car might cost, probably add 50% to your guess to avoid disappointment.

The USA will get Apple Car first

Given the bewilderingly slow rollout of advanced Apple Maps features beyond the USA, it would be foolhardy to expect Apple Car to motor across the entire world on day one. It will likely start as a US-first product Apple “hopes” to take elsewhere “soon”. On the plus side for not-Americans, issues should be fixed by the time Apple Car heads elsewhere.

Apple’s advanced maps have taken their sweet time to roll out

Apple could upend the entire car industry

Before you dismiss the idea Apple could transform an industry awash with major seasoned players, the company’s done this before. Remember Palm’s Ed Colligan making a fateful comment in 2006 about Apple’s then-rumored iPhone: “PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.” So don’t bet against ‘PC and phone guys’ just walking in and radically rethinking cars.

It will charge using a Lightning cable

Just kidding. (Sorry, but we couldn’t resist.)