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The Apple Car is reportedly going all-in on self-driving and could release by 2025

A four-year deadline to go to market is ridiculously ambitious.

apple car mockup
Image: AutoEvolution (mockup)

Apple wants to build a better automobile and has retooled its electric car project around focusing on full self-driving capabilities. That’s according to the usually-accurate Mark Gurman at Bloomberg, who also says Apple’s timeline for delivery of the new car is now 2025.

Now under the leadership of Kevin Lynch, the software exec that was pivotal in the Apple Watch’s success, Project Titan is going all-in on full-self driving with the Apple Car. That means the other option the team was exploring, a car with “limited self-driving capabilities focused on steering and acceleration” is up on blocks for now.

A four-year deadline to go to market is ridiculously ambitious. Even Tesla, who has the best driving-aid system right now, is years off from offering a full, no-intervention autonomous car. The other front-runner, Alphabet’s Waymo, still has to have human “safety drivers” behind the wheel when operated, so it’s clear that fully-autonomous driving is still further down the road.

Apparently, Apple’s “ideal car” wouldn’t even look like a car inside, with no steering wheel or pedals, and seats designed for passenger comfort, instead of the traditional layout. That could look like limo-style seats around the outside of the interior, with all of the passengers facing each other, or with a large, iPad-style infotainment center in the middle of the vehicle’s interior.

tesla with no steering wheel
A mockup of a Tesla without a steering wheel (Image: Tesla)

The other cool thing from this report is that the chip powering the self-driving functionality was designed by Apple. It’s reportedly the most advanced component Apple has ever developed internally, and just like the rest of its product stack, Apple is likely betting on its ability to control the entire hardware and software systems as a way to catch up to the competition.

Those chips could be on the road in the near future, in the fleet of 69 customized Lexus SUVs that Apple has been using in California to test its self-driving software.

Whatever shape the Apple Car eventually takes, Apple still needs to find an automotive partner to build the thing. Big names like Kia, Nissan, and Toyota have all been reportedly linked with the project, but it seems none of these companies are the partner Apple was looking for.

Perhaps a partnership with Ford is a possibility, as the prior head of Project Titan, Doug Ford, left in September to head up Ford’s digital product stack.

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