Toggle Dark Mode
With Apple now supposedly in talks with Hyundai about actually building the Apple Car, we’re now starting to see some reports from the usual slate of reliable analysts as to exactly what Apple’s futuristic self-driving vehicle will actually be capable of.
Venerable Apple watcher Ming-Chi Kuo, who has a pretty solid track record when it comes to reading the company’s tea leaves, has released a new investor note that confirms the partnership with Hyundai, while also sharing some insight into exactly why Apple has been specifically working with the South Korean automaker.
Specifically, Kuo believes that Apple plans to use Hyundai’s E-GMP electric vehicle platform as the foundation for the Apple Car — the chassis that was announced in December with some pretty serious specs, including a 300-mile range and extremely fast charging.
If Apple were to go with the high-performance version of Hyundai’s solution, this means that the Apple Car would be able to accelerate from 0-60 mph in under 3.5 seconds, reaching a maximum top speed of 160 mph.
In addition, the E-GMP system can recharge back to 80 percent capacity in only 18 minutes, while a mere five-minute charge will provide an extra 60 miles of range.
These are of course the specs that Hyundai is offering up for a vehicle that’s designed under completely ideal circumstances — not only using the highest-performance version of the chassis but also addressing optimal weight and aerodynamic performance issues.
That said, it’s also still an open question as to whether Apple would use an “off-the-shelf” version of the E-GMP chassis, especially since Hyundai also plans to use it for its own battery electric vehicles (BEVs), of which it expects to sell one million units worldwide by 2025.
After all, it’s worth keeping in mind that Apple has already hired some pretty serious powertrain engineering talent from other automakers like Tesla over the past few years, which suggests that it’s likely to take a more collaborative approach to develop a custom solution, leaning on Hyundai’s expertise and possibly using the E-GMP system as a baseline for a solution tailored more to its specific needs.
In his research note, Kuo does also add that Apple has been in “deep collaboration” with other automakers such as General Motors and French automaker PSA Group (best known for the Peugeot and Citroën), although he’s banking on Hyundai taking the lead, with the South Korean company’s Mobis subsidiary handling the design and production of some key Apple Car components, while also confirming other reports that Kia Motors will handle the actual U.S.-based production of the vehicles.
Notably, Kuo says that Apple doesn’t plan to involve Foxconn in the mix at all for the Apple Car, even though the Chinese plants are already developing electric vehicle parts as well. It’s unclear if this is simply a matter of Apple diversifying its supply chain — and keeping it out China, in particular — or if it’s simply more interested in keeping as much as possible within the Hyundai group of companies.
A ‘Very High-End’ Model
If Kuo’s predictions are true, there’s every reason to believe that the Apple Car will have the higher-end specs of the E-GMP platform, since the analyst notes that Apple plans to market the vehicle as “a very high-end” model of car, likely more on par with a Tesla than Kia’s Nero EV.
That said, Kuo is being a bit more conservative about the launch timeframe than the other reports we’ve heard recently, suggesting that 2025 will be the very earliest that we’ll see an Apple Car launch, although to be fair this doesn’t necessarily contradict the timeframe that’s been predicted by various Korean supply chain sources, since those reports have indicated that an initial production run of around 100,000 vehicles would begin in 2024, which could still suggest a 2025 launch.
As Kuo notes, however, it takes Apple about 18–24 months to develop a new iPhone model from the very initial specifications to mass production, and even with Hyundai’s expertise and Apple’s incredibly deep pockets, an electric vehicle like the Apple Car will almost certainly have a much longer development time, particularly in light of what Kuo calls “higher validation requirements” and “more complicated supply chain management,” not to mention setting up a whole new sales and after-sales service system, since it’s not likely you’ll just be driving your Apple Car into a Genius Bar for service.
We believe that Apple, which lacks car building experience, is already on a tight schedule if it wants to launch the Apple Car in 2025.Ming-Chi Kuo
That said, 2025 is Kuo’s most optimistic estimate; both Kuo and Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman have previously predicted a broader timeframe of between 2025 and 2028, with Gurman reporting that the vehicle is “nowhere near production stage” at this point, and even though Apple has seemingly unlimited financial resources to throw into the project, that doesn’t always speed things up — after all, there’s an old saying in project management circles that you can’t have a baby in one month by impregnating nine women.