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Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives says the only question about the Apple Car is “when, not if.” Ives says the Apple Car is on its way and will be available by 2026.
While Apple has yet to confirm that it is working on an Apple Car, it’s an open secret, as there have been numerous reports about the vehicle, and the Cupertino firm has applied for hundreds of automobile-related patents, over the past few years, including a recent one related to seatbelts
Apple has also recently been linked to an Arizona self-driving testing facility. There have also been reports of several staff changes related to the project, as the company has shaken up its entire vehicle team, including rotating managers and engineers in and out of the project.
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During a Friday morning interview with CNBC, Ives repeated that the only question about the Apple Car is “when, not if.” Ives also used that “when, not if” phrase back in 2021 in an investor’s note, where he discussed Apple’s possible entry into the electric vehicle marketplace.
Ives’ comments came in response to February 2021 reports that Apple was conducting discussions with possible car-building partners, including Nissan and Hyundai. He described Apple’s discussions as a “dating game.”
At that time, Ives asserted that there was at least an 85% chance that Apple would announce a partnership with an established auto company sometime in the next three to six months.
Since that prediction failed to come to pass, Ives now says we’ll see an Apple Car launch by 2026. His comments jibe with previous comments by well-connected Apple industry analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has said a projected 2025 release date has fallen behind schedule.
Apple has reportedly been working on a vehicle for nearly a decade, possibly starting the much-rumored project as early as 2014, which means the project began before the release of several current Apple products, such as the Apple Watch.
Earlier in June, reports indicated Apple is working on seatbelts that do more than just strap a driver or passenger into the Apple Car, with buckles that can light up and display information.
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard that Apple is working on advanced seatbelts. A 2019 patent showed seatbelts that include speakers and media controls. Now, Apple’s newly-granted patent, which is called “Restraint with an indicator area,” shows the company is working on improvements for the seatbelt release button.
The seatbelt button would illuminate to help drivers and passengers to find it. This could help eliminate situations such as determining who a seatbelt belongs to, or where the buckle should be inserted.
Apple’s patent indicates the red light would be turned off until it’s needed, and the illumination would be hidden until needed behind invisible holes in the seatbelt materials.
A March 2023 report said Apple now has more than 200 drivers testing Apple Car self-driving systems. Despite the large number of drivers, Apple doesn’t appear to have added any new vehicles to its fleet, as it still sits at 67 cars.