Life is kinda overwhelming right now. We get it. It goes from feeling like nothing at all is happening or ever will, then BAM! a bunch of things happen, and you don’t know where to start.
All the Apple Car news this week serves as case and point. There’s, um, a heck of a lot of it to sift through. So let us do the heavy lifting for you. Here are the important milestones and reports you need to know about.
More than just a rumor
A good tech story always starts with a rumor, and the Apple Car saga is one of those stories.
Rumors, musings, and distant rumblings about Apple making a motor vehicle are nothing new. But over the past three months they’ve ramped up considerably, and we’re now seeing a string of reports that make new claims about what Apple is doing, what its car will look like, and who is going to make it.
Back in December, we had the first solid movement for a while. A Reuters report suggested that Apple is aiming to start producing its car in 2024.
With that report, it seemed the Cupertino tech giant was still intent on making a somewhat conventional car, albeit electric and with a host of senors like LiDAR.
Some commentors believed that the coronavirus pandemic would delay production until at least 2025, but one thing began to feel a little more certain: the Apple Car is on its way.
Fast forward to this year, and rumors have got a little more solid.
At the start of January, a Bloomberg report confirmed that Apple still had a dedicated team working to develop its automotive tech. The team is said to be working on all manner of vehicle components from drivetrains, to interiors, to body designs.
As that report surfaced, CNBC also published a report saying that South Korean carmaker Hyundai would be Apple’s manufacturing partner. All of a sudden, the sun rose and light was cast on what had so far been a collection of murky suggestions from industry insiders.
Although that didn’t last long. Shortly after CNBC’s report, Hyundai began backpedaling on its involvement with the project.
“We understand that Apple is in discussion with a variety of global automakers, including Hyundai Motor.
As the discussion is at its early stage, nothing has been decided.”
— Steve Kopack (@SteveKopack) January 8, 2021
These reports also seemed to suggest that the Apple Car was much further away that we were first led to believe. Rather than it going into production by 2024, it’s more likely something we’ll see by the end of the decade. That’s if we’re lucky.
You can read SHIFT’s full coverage of these stories here.
Apple, Hyundai, Kia, and Porsche?
This brings us quickly to the barrage of Apple Car news that has been cast upon us this week. Seriously, I’ve not seen so many articles with pretty much the same headline on the same topic — people are clearly very very keen to talk about the Apple Car.
So let’s take a look at what went down this week.
First up this week, a slew of reports that indicated Apple was slipping $3.6 billion into the back pocket of another South Korean carmaker: Kia.
Bear in mind that Kia is an affiliate of Hyundai, so it’s not like Apple has swung from pillar to post here, it’s more of a minor realignment. But the crux of the news is that Apple would give Kia a bunch of money, and the carmaker would actually build the Apple Car.
Rumors also stipulated that Kia would make the Apple Car in its Georgia, US, factory.
While that was gong on, more maneuvers from Apple’s back office came to light. It had poached a Porsche engineer to work on its chassis designs. Not just any engineer though, they managed to wrangle Manfred Harrer, one of the world’s leading chassis designers and Porsche’s now former head chassis engineer.
Back to conversations between Apple, Hyundai, and Kia.
Within a day of rumors about a potential Apple x Kia marriage, further reports added wood to the fire, and seemed to confirm that Apple, Hyundai, and Kia were indeed tieing the knot on an electric vehicle three-way that would, after a gestation period of five to 10 years, lead to the birth of Apple’s first vehicle.
Georgia or Japan?
At the start of this week (February 1, 2021), the route ahead for Apple’s car seemed clearer than ever. It would be made in the US, by Hyundai-Kia, at a rate of about 100,000 a year.
But y’know, nothing is ever straightforward. And today’s round of reportage threw a new blanket of doubt of what Apple is doing, and the status of its negotiations with carmakers.
According to an IB Times report, a Japanese news outlet reports that Apple was in talks with six carmakers in the Asian country. Stock prices of Japanese carmakers swiftly shot up, even though it’s not at all clear or confirmed who Apple might be speaking to.
Nissan, Honda, and Mazda either couldn’t or didn’t comment on the matter. Meanwhile, Mitsubishi said that it wasn’t contacted.
Even so, the speculation is now that Apple is looking to Japan for its vehicle manufacturing. The country has a long and proud history of car making, so this certainly makes sense. But, at this point, we need to remain mindful that we don’t know what Apple is talking to Japanese companies about.
It could be that Apple is looking to Japan for component suppliers or possible manufacture tie ups to license or borrow technology for its own use. For now, it could be all or none of those reasons.
That brings us up to today (February 5, 2021), where it’s still not clear what’s happening with the Apple Car. But hey, it’s a fun ride, isn’t it?
See you next week for a whole new batch of Apple Car rumors… probably.
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