Apple’s Electric Car Plan Shifts to Tesla ‘Me-Too Product’: Report

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Apple, in a crucial phase of its decade-long car project, has reportedly adjusted its electric vehicle (EV) design to be less ambitious, aligning more closely with the current capabilities of Tesla. This strategic pivot, according to sources familiar with the matter, marks a significant shift from Apple’s initial vision of a fully autonomous vehicle, reports Bloomberg.

The tech giant, which had previously aimed to launch a driverless car, is now focusing on an EV with more limited features, similar to Tesla’s standard Autopilot feature. This change in direction comes as Apple’s target release date for the vehicle slips to 2028, about two years later than a recent projection, as per anonymous sources.

The project, codenamed Titan and T172, has been one of Apple’s most ambitious and tumultuous endeavors. Since 2014, it has undergone numerous leadership changes, strategy shifts, and delays. Despite these challenges, the project remains a potential game-changer for Apple, which has seen a stall in revenue growth due to a maturing smartphone market and economic slowdown in China.

Originally, Apple’s goal was to release a car by 2026 with advanced self-driving features. However, the company has now scaled back its ambitions, opting for a Level 2+ system, a downgrade from the previously planned Level 4 technology. This decision reflects a more realistic approach to the complexities of autonomous vehicle technology.

Internally, this shift is viewed as a pivotal moment for the project. Apple’s board, along with project head Kevin Lynch and CEO Tim Cook, have been closely involved in the strategy discussions. The company has also been engaging with potential manufacturing partners in Europe to discuss this new approach.

Despite the revised plan, some Apple executives remain skeptical about the project’s ability to achieve profit margins comparable to the company’s flagship products. However, a car in the $100,000 range could boost revenue and establish Apple’s presence in the growing EV sector.

Apple’s most significant automotive contribution to date has been its CarPlay software, which is undergoing a redesign for deeper integration with vehicle systems. The latest strategy for the Apple car is seen internally as a move to emulate Tesla, focusing on design, safety, and user interface to differentiate itself.

The company is also considering further management changes in its hardware engineering and autonomous software teams. This includes bringing in executives from established car companies like Ford, Porsche, and Lamborghini, indicating a continued commitment to the project despite the scaled-back ambitions.

Apple is going to take a very long time to release an electric vehicle. Making cars and especially self-driving ones is a monumental task compared to producing an iPhone. Apple might be better off licensing Full Self-Driving from Tesla by the time we see a product in 2028. Not holding our breath here.