Beware, Detroit – tech giant Apple is making plans for a high-speed automatic car.
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The iPhone maker has set a goal in 2024 to produce a passenger vehicle – complemented by its own battery “discovery” technology, according to a new report.
Essential to Apple’s car ambitions is a new battery design that could “radically” reduce the cost of batteries and increase the autonomy of the vehicle, according to Reuters.
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“It’s the next level,” said one person about Apple’s battery technology. “Just like the first time you saw the iPhone.”
The tech giant’s self-management plans come as the company run by Tim Cook has been desperately looking for ways to diversify Apple’s revenue as sales of its flagship iPhone slow.
Apple’s efforts to enter the car game, called “Project Titan”, began in 2014, but the company later withdrew its efforts to focus on software and reevaluate its goals. Apple veteran Doug Field, a former Tesla executive who started the second stage with Apple in 2018, fired 190 people from the team in 2019.
But since then, the Cupertino, California company has made enough progress to plan to build a consumer vehicle, two people familiar with the plan told Reuters. This puts the company that revolutionized the smartphone in direct competition with Tesla, as well as more traditional Detroit automakers such as Chrysler and General Motors.
Apple did not comment.
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Of course, car production is not without its challenges – even for a company with deep pockets. And while Apple is able to produce hundreds of millions of electronics a year and supply parts around the world, it has never built a car. Elon Musk’s Tesla lasted nearly two decades until his company finally turned into a sustained profit from cars.
Uber giant, which announces the ride with vehicles, announced earlier this month plans to exit the car business, by selling its autonomous vehicle research unit, Advanced Technologies Group, to the startup Aurora
Alphabet’s Waymo has also worked on robotic taxis to transport passengers for a driverless driving service.
“If there’s one company on the planet that has the resources to do that, it’s probably Apple. But at the same time, it is not a mobile phone, “a person who worked on Project Titan told Reuters.
The report said it remains unclear who will assemble an Apple car, but sources said it “expects the company to rely on a production partner to build vehicles.”
“To have a viable assembly plant, you need 100,000 vehicles a year, with a higher volume,” said one critic.
Apple may also decide to reduce the scope of its efforts to an automatic driving system that would be integrated with a car manufactured by a traditional automaker, the report said.
Apple is currently working with external partners for elements of the system, including lidar sensors, which help self-driving cars have a three-dimensional view of the road, sources said, adding that Apple could also develop its own sensors.
As for the car’s battery, Reuters said the Silicon Valley giant plans to use a unique “single-cell” design to clump individual cells in the battery and free up space inside the battery pack, eliminating bags and modules containing battery materials.
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This design means the car could have more autonomy, the report said, adding that the company could use lithium-iron phosphate batteries, which are less likely to overheat than other lithium-ion batteries.
In addition to technology, in order for Apple to make a profit, it will have to keep up with the high volume quotas from car manufacturers.