Apple speeds up electric-car efforts, aims for 2019 ‘ship date’

“Apple Inc. is accelerating efforts to build an electric car, designating it internally as a ‘committed project’ and setting a target ship date for 2019, according to people familiar with the matter,” Daisuke Wakabayashi reports for The Wall Street Journal.

“The go-ahead came after the company spent more than a year investigating the feasibility of an Apple-branded car, including meetings with two groups of government officials in California. Leaders of the project, code-named Titan , have been given permission to triple the 600-person team, the people familiar with the matter said.,” Wakabayashi reports. “Apple has hired experts in driverless cars, but the people familiar with Apple’s plans said the Cupertino, Calif., company doesn’t currently plan to make its first electric vehicle fully autonomous. That capability is part of the product’s long-term plans, the people familiar with the matter said.”

“The 2019 target is ambitious. Building a car is a complex endeavor, even more so for a company without any experience. Once Apple completes its designs and prototypes, a vehicle would still need to undergo a litany of tests before it could clear regulatory hurdles,” Wakabayashi reports. “In Apple’s parlance, a ‘ship date’ doesn’t necessarily mean the date that customers receive a new product; it can also mean the date that engineers sign off on the product’s main features”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote back in March:

When Apple enters markets, it’s because they can bring something(s) so unique to the table that significant disruption is inevitable.

It goes without saying that Apple would create a premium vehicle, premium-priced for premium customers as usual, not a some low-end crate.

SEE ALSO:
What to expect from the Apple Car: Disruption – August 31, 2015
Apple Car: Tesla engineer joins Apple’s ‘Project Titan’ vehicle effort – August 21, 2015
Apple Car development proceeds apace – July 27, 2015
Apple hires veteran Fiat Chrysler auto industry executive – July 20, 2015
What’s up with Carl Icahn’s sudden obsession with the Apple Car? – May 18, 2015
Survey: 77% of hybrid or electric vehicle owners would likely buy an Apple Car – May 13, 2015
Apple Car: Forget ‘electric,’ think hydrogen fuel cells – February 20, 2015
Apple working with Intelligent Energy on fuel cell technology for mobile devices, sources say – July 14, 2014
North Carolina regulators approve Apple’s 4.8-megawatt fuel cell facility at Maiden data center – May 23, 2012
New aerial images of Apple’s planned NC fuel cell, solar farms published – April 7, 2012
Apple’s massive fuel cell energy project to be largest in the U.S. – April 4, 2012
Apple patent application reveals next-gen fuel cell powered Macs and iOS devices – December 22, 2011
Apple patent app details highly-advanced hydrogen fuel cells to power portable devices – October 20, 2011

28 Comments

  1. making an electric car might be ok but ‘driverless’ is too ambitious and rightly should be longer term.

    Google’s cars have double the number of accidents than normal cars.
    (Google blames other drivers for accidents but robots have problems. For example one Goog car froze at a four way stop because none of the other cars ‘followed the rules’ to stop exactly on the lines, and they can’t understand hand signals like from a traffic cop at an accident site … ) It’ll take years and years if ever to solve it all.

    1. You might have outdated data. This is the head of Google’s self-driving car initiative speaking a few months ago at TED. At around 10:00 mark he says the system can now detect a police officer’s hand signals.

      Overall, it looks like their efforts are at an advanced stage:

      1. “now detect a police officer’s hand signals.”
        really?
        what about an AGITATED PEDESTRIANS wild hand signalling at a crash? can a robot figure out wild wavings and shouts : “don’t swerve to the side there’s a injured guy hidden in the grass !!!! “. Or even a panicked rookie cop’s UNORTHODOX signals.
        a human is smarter and can make out ‘facial expressions, voice etc’.
        (I don’t even want to go deep into the fact that many countries hand signals are different. If you form your fingers into an ‘O’ some places it means A OK and other’s it’s an insult ” You are a Zero ” ….

        Google is FULL of bullshit.
        At one time it said it didn’t disclose many accidents originally as they are ’caused by OTHER drivers and people and not the google cars’ thus ‘not significant’. Like I said Goog’s car accident rate is twice normal. Dude I don’t how MANY ACCIDENTS I’VE AVOIDED when the OTHER CAR not me MADE MISTAKES because as I’m a human I can react to the OTHER drivers or pedestrians weird behaviour. (like when i see a kid with an UNLEASHED dog on the SIDE of the road I slow down … )

        ——
        BTW: remember the Goog blimp that crashed.
        and OH google CAN’T EVEN BUILD A BEST SELLING… PHONE or GLASSES. you trust it with YOUR LIFE to build a car????

        1. To set the record straight I have repeatedly criticized Google over the last few years and know their products lack in fit and finish, but the majority of consumers still use their search engine and smartphone operating systems. This means many consumers trust them and won’t have issues using their self-driving software/vehicles.

          My post was to show how far along they are with self-driving software. The demo in the video did tackle some unknown situations such as the wheelchair and ducks, but did not elaborate on the vehicle’s reactions to snow, ice, branches, mud etc. on the road. Also, how will the vehicle react to many falling leaves? Will it slow down because it thinks they are birds? How about this scenario – I was driving behind a van doing about 70 and the back van doors flew open. About five dummies were tossed out. Would a self-driving car react by slamming on the breaks, swerving or driving over the obstacles? Another situation – My friends and I were cruising down the highway and the car in front of us slammed on their breaks. The hoodlum jumped out of his car and pointed a gun at us. What would a self-driving car do in this instance? Slowly go around the gun-brandishing psycho or insane speed out of the situation? So, yes there is millions of situations an autonomous car would have to navigate, and that is why it is taking so long to perfect. But, there is a high probability that there will be these types of vehicles on the road by 2019.

            1. They have crashed!

              http://money.cnn.com/2015/07/17/autos/google-self-driving-car-injury-accident/

              But Google says: “not once has the self-driving car been the cause of the collision.”

              Google should do some driving research where I live. I’ve never seen more clueless bicycle riders anywhere. I swear they have a death wish. Riding through red lights on the wrong side of the road is standard operating practice around here, if they’re on the road at all (as in sidewalks). Expect the unexpected and always deferring to the pedestrian, however brain dead they may be, is the rule.

              If Google succeeds in training their car program to deal with the unexpected, it will be a good step toward real program intelligence. (I’m a huge critic of the baloney being called ‘artificial intelligence’ at this point in time).

  2. Apple cannot confirm nor deny the existence of any car project. Asking them about it results in suffocation or collapse of the vocal cords to prevent accidental acknowledgement.

    There was a national attempt to gleam any knowledge of hinted at project, to dead air time, on the Late Show. Thanks Colbert for a heroic attempt. Well played. But you were talking to a master at keeping secrets, Tim Cook.

      1. He was tight lipped he wasn’t tipping anything off. Steve was saying we heard from Elon, etc, etc. Steve is a mouth full so I suppose if Tim was going to say anything he couldn’t get a word in edgewise. But that could have been the plan all along. Those shows are pretty well scripted.

  3. Check out the Chevy BOLT. Not volt, BOLT. Chevy has committed to building it in 2016.

    Cool looking. $30,000. Rapid recharge (45 min. 85% charge), and 200 mile between charges.

    Electric is coming, no doubt about it. But what is going to be powering the electric car? Will Apple’s electric vehicle be similar to TESLA and CHEVY? Or will it be something else, like a fuel cell. If Apple can develop a fuel cell with cheap power pack modules that can be purchased off the shelf at gas stations, Walmart, Ace Hardware, etc. then maybe they will have something different. If it’s going to be just another battery powered electric car like the recently announced Chevy Bolt then I don’t think it will be all that much better than the rest.

    I really can’t imagine Apple NOT DOING something different, clever and truly smart. So, a FUEL CELL car it is — a different electric vehicle.

    1. Four years is a long time from now. As long as gasoline prices are low, most consumers won’t have anything to do with an electric car. So, are you turning in your gas guzzler for an electric car any time soon? It’ll be heads of families or tree-huggers who’ll be buying it. I’ve heard that most younger men think electric cars from the major auto manufacturers (not Tesla) are for wusses. In my neighborhood, the throaty roar of a big-block gasoline engine is a mating call. Not many people turn their heads for a silently humming e-car.

        1. Nerd, perhaps you could be humble enough to admit that the limited options in electric and hybrid vehicles does not suit all needs or budgets. The up-front cost of the electric system — still relatively new and immature manufacturing — means that every electric vehicle takes several years to pay off compared to its equivalent all-gas equivalent in most regions of the planet. If we actually charged users for emissions and scrubbed the pollution from coal-fired power plants, and recycled all the old batteries, then absolutely, electrics would be a better value in short order. But right now for most people they are simply a hedge against future high price of gasoline — and that high price of gasoline has been pushed out a few years thanks to the surge in supply since Bush II and Obama (aka Bush III) opened up US federal lands and waterways to all manner of oil speculation, as well as opening all pipelines to the nasty tar that Canada wants to sell.

          When the current oil boom is over, then electrics will take over the urban roads quickly. But you’ll see >$6 per gallon of gasoline before they become the plurality.

          1. In my neighborhood, a guy rumbling down in a big-block Camaro is considered a redneck (girls roll their eyes). Tesla zooming by is a sighting retold at bar gatherings.

            You may call us Metrosexuals, I suppose…

  4. It seems unlikely that Apple will manufacture cars directly.
    Numerous Chinese car manufacturers build European and American designs under license. And they have substantial capacity.
    For instance, SAIC built about 4,000,000 cars last year and has an engineering and design center in Michigan.
    Assume that Apple finishes the design, makes 200 to 1,000 prototypes for design and regulatory testing, and releases to SAIC for manufacture.
    A few months later, the world is full of Apple Car.

  5. Apple will make its money off the fuel packs. That way they control the power source.

    Apple cars will be like our laser printers. First you buy the printer, then you buy the cartridges FOREVER!

    You heard it here first! 😉

  6. If this is true it’s a really bad idea. Not to mention a totally inefficient allocation of investor resources. Even if BMW were to make the car with Apple software or whatever it will still not be a profitable investment.

  7. The problem for me is that whereas with an Apple Watch you can differentiate with colours, straps, faces, etc, they’re still all fundamentally the same. Cars have different form factors for a reason, beyond fashion and personal taste, people have needs for big cars, small cars, trucks, etc. I was wondering if maybe Apple are looking at expanding CarPlay into every electrical area of the car. Like HomeKit but more. One standardised computer system for every aspect of a cars electrical system. Media, telecoms, temp control, diagnostics, automation, everything. If they can get the tech right they can just plug it into cars and let manufacturers worry about the safety and environmental regulations, and offer a wide variety of cars. Set up your metrics, then any car you get into is automatically configured for you. Nothing to stop them doing the hardware side, but they’re not going to make a one size fits all like they did with the iPhone. If they can get in the guts of cars they can be in every car.

  8. The subwoofer is the mating call (for now.) And e-cars have those too. It feels great to not wait-and-see…. been driving the Leaf for two years, powering from rooftop solar on the house. ICE feels so retro, like AOL or pre-microwave oven.

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