Is the Apple Car Coming Next Year?

Apple Car Concept Renders Idrop News 2 1000x600 Credit: iDrop News / Erick Martinez
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Apple’s long-rumoured foray into developing its own self-driving electric car has been a fascinating tale over the past few years, but despite sporadic reports of new developments on the still-secretive Project Titan, most reports have suggested an actual vehicle is still at least 3-5 years off.

Now, however, a new supply chain report is offering a tiny glimmer of hope this holiday season in suggesting that Apple’s vehicle ambitions may actually be two years ahead of schedule, with the first model ready to debut as soon as next year.

Taiwan’s Economic Daily News (Google Translate), is reporting on conversations with executives at several Taiwanese auto parts manufacturers who have claimed that Apple expects to release the Apple Car as soon as September of next year, which it adds is two years earlier than the original plan.

The Taiwanese business publication reveals that even though many of the factories are low profile companies that you’ve probably never even heard of, they’ve been ramping up their production lines in response to the demand to provide parts for the Apple Car, with one, Heda, actually spinning up six new production lines to be ready for the second quarter of 2021 at its new plant in Daphne Meiyuan, Chiayi, and others either building entirely new plants or relocating existing ones to better facilities.

Notably, these companies also make parts for other electric vehicle manufacturers, including Tesla, but apparently the new term “American Double A” has been making the rounds among Taiwanese auto parts companies that refers to Apple and Amazon, with one being “the big A” and the other being “the little A” (you can probably guess which is which in this case).

According to at least one executive at a major domestic supply chain manufacturer, however, Amazon is actually expected to beat Apple to the punch with the release of its first electric vehicle in August. However, Amazon’s project is also considerably less ambitious, with its aim to produce an electric cargo truck that will be used for internal shipping purposes.

A Dose of Salt

Despite the seeming confidence of Taiwanese suppliers, however, this should be taken with a very healthy dose of salt, since as with many supply chain rumours, reports of actual timelines are usually extremely inaccurate. In other words, supply chain partners often have a good idea of “what” but a very poor estimate of “when” — especially this far in advance.

This is even more true in light of the ongoing global health pandemic, which has already delayed the iPhone 12 and quite likely some of Apple’s other products, such as the AirPods Max, which arrived much later than we would have expected — mid-December releases are almost unheard of from Apple, especially when introducing an entirely new product category.

It does stand to reason that Apple is probably lining things up with automative suppliers — Tim Cook’s logistical prowess is legendary, and Apple is well known for locking down supply chains for its upcoming products years in advance — however reports from other publications such as DigiTimes have said that these are in the preliminary states at best, support most of the other reports we’ve heard that an actual Apple Car remains at least a couple of years away.

Auto parts suppliers could certainly be fielding orders for Apple to create a smaller number of vehicles for testing, since thus far all of Apple’s road tests have been conducted using mainstream production model cars, so it may be ready to start road testing prototypes of its own Apple-designed vehicle, and in order to do this effectively it would likely want to produce more than one.

Further, no car manufacturer builds a whole new lineup of vehicles overnight. Even Apple’s iPhone has lead times of up to a year to begin developing and prototyping new iPhones, and the Apple Car is an entirely new venture for the company, requiring a massive number of parts that would certainly have more than just a handful of factories buzzing about it.

That said, it’s not impossible that Apple could be preparing to announce the Apple Car next year, as it’s fairly common for automakers to reveal their new vehicles years in advance sometimes, especially if they’re an entirely new model or design. Of course, Apple would have to reach a certain level of confidence in its vehicle project in order to be willing to do that, but with the Apple Car having now shifted to an AI project it does seem that the company has solved all of the core engineering problems, so a late 2021 “tease” of the new vehicle wouldn’t be entirely out of the question.

[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]

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