Apple is planning to start production on its self-driving electric vehicles by 2024, according to a new report from Reuters.
The plans include what a source described as “next level” battery technology that is akin to “the first time you saw the iPhone”.
Apple expects its battery’s low cost and long range will help position it in an increasingly crowded market.
The monocell battery design looks to squeeze in more material and will use lithium iron phosphate chemistry that the Reuters source said is less likely to overheat than other lithium-ion designs.
The car will also likely include lidar sensors which may use technology derived from the iPhone 12 Pro models that now feature lidar sensors.
Known as Project Titan, Apple’s car production intentions have been regularly leaked to the press since 2014 when it was supposedly given the nod of approval from CEO Tim Cook.
The tech giant has not publicly acknowledged the project.
There has been little news about Titan in the past 12 months following Apple’s retrenchment of 200 employees from the project and its purchase of self-driving startup Drive.ai which was about to go bust before the tech giant swooped in last June.
Apple will be competing from behind as it takes on the likes of Elon Musk’s company Tesla which has been working on the varied complexities of autonomous electric vehicles since it was founded in 2003.
Musk has long been touting the autonomous capabilities of Tesla vehicles which had been mostly limited to more of a smart cruise control than full autonomy.
At least that was the case until October when Tesla started rolling out its ‘Full Self-Driving’ update to certain beta-testing customers deemed low-risk by the company.
Aside from developing proprietary technology that drives and powers the car, Apple will also have to scale an appropriate manufacturing plant from scratch, though it had previously been linked with contract manufacturer Magna International.
“If there is one company on the planet that has the resources to do that, it’s probably Apple,” the Reuters source inside Project Titan said.
“But at the same time, it’s not a cell phone.”
Project Titan is one of the most poorly-kept secrets in Silicon Valley. A former Apple employee was even charged after he allegedly stole 40GB of data about the project before going to work for Chinese electric car company Xpeng Motors.