Tamim Hasan

Cannon Writer

 

Since its inception in 1976, Apple has been a driving force in the realm of technology and has had an increasing impact on our day-to-day lives. Over the years, the two trillion-dollar company has added a multitude of new products and services to its predominantly smartphone-oriented catalogue, such as their tech-savvy Apple Watch and Airpod products, along with their Apple Music and AppleTV+ streaming services. As one of the world’s most renowned companies continues to grow its ecosystem of goods and services, a common question is: “What’s next?” Rumours over the past few years have suggested that Apple plans on entering other tech-markets, in particular the electric car and overall automotive industry.

The idea of developing an Apple vehicle dates back to 2014 when a group of 1000+ Apple employees began development of “Project Titan,” an initiative that would allow Apple to build their very own self-driving electric vehicle. Project Titan saw very little progress in its early years as many of the employees and leaders involved in the project were replaced and laid off. However, the buzz encompassing an Apple vehicle has begun to resurface and looks to be a logical possibility.

Now more than ever, companies around the world strive to shift their attention towards sustainable energy. Most major automotive companies seek to build electric cars as they become the new norm. At the forefront of the electric car revolution is Tesla, a company that has massively increased the drive and popularity of electric vehicles and is now seen as one of the most valuable companies in America. The increasing value of Tesla has even made its CEO, Elon Musk, the wealthiest person in the world. So, as the electric vehicle market continues to expand and prosper, it seems logical for a tech company as humongous as Apple to push their way into the competition. In an attempt to refocus Project Titan, Apple has hired Tesla’s former Senior Vice President of Engineering, Doug Field, and many other ex-Tesla employees since late 2017. Apple has even invested in technology relevant to a self-driving vehicle such as processors, batteries, and cameras.

There are several rumours as to Apple’s exact plans on how to execute the production of the Apple Car. One rumour claims that Apple has been communicating with numerous car companies and is allegedly looking to collaborate with Hyundai in manufacturing their own car. The idea is that Apple would produce next generation battery technology and provide the software while Hyundai would help build the rest of the car. Another possibility is that Apple will seek components for the vehicle from multiple suppliers and have a partner like Hyundai to assemble the final vehicle. This type of collaboration would be similar to the Apple-Foxconn relationship, where Foxconn, a Taiwanese multinational electronics contract manufacturer,  assembles the vast majority of Apple’s iPhones.

However, other rumours suggest that Apple forming a partnership for their vehicle is out of the picture. Much of Apple’s success over the years has come as a result of setting their own standards, from the aesthetics involved in their products to the careful decisions that set and influence trends in the smartphone industry. The Apple Car can also be a great opportunity to encourage users to engage with other Apple services such as Apple Maps and Apple Music, adding to the connectivity of the Apple ecosystem. Overall, it would be hard to imagine that Apple would abandon their methods of vertical integration and instead seek partners for a self-driving electric vehicle product.

Furthermore, there is a substantial opportunity for profit that Apple may not want to risk with partners. By controlling the manufacturing and distribution of their car, Apple would be able to take advantage of the thin margins of the automotive industry.  According to AppleInsider, Wall Street Analyst Katy Huberta claims that Apple has the potential to achieve major profits due to the large size of the automotive industry, estimating that Apple would only need to achieve a 2% share of the market to match their share of the smartphone market!

Rumours hint that we may see a first glimpse of the Apple Car as early as 2024 but like the rest of the information present it is all just speculation. How Apple will bring the Apple Car to life and whether it will even see the light of day is up for question, but it will definitely be interesting to see where Apple’s vision takes them next. If done right, the Apple Car could be Apple’s next iPhone…

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