Apple reportedly plans to build a self-driving electric car by 2024, but it will face stiff competition as new EVs flood the market
- Apple wants to release a self-driving, electric consumer car by 2024, Reuters reported Monday.
- The tech giant would face competition from dozens of new electric vehicles that are set to flood the market over the next few years.
- Apple may not build its own car at all, deciding instead to integrate its battery and self-driving technology into an existing automaker's vehicles, Reuters reported.
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Apple's electric-vehicle project is surging ahead with the aim of building a self-driving consumer car by 2024, Reuters reported Monday. And although developing a new car from scratch is a massive challenge in itself, the true test will be whether the tech giant can convince drivers to buy it.
Dozens upon dozens of electric vehicles across multiple segments are set to flood the market in coming years, from both upstart firms and established manufacturers alike, all of which are set to include some advanced driver-assistance tech.
And while it's difficult to determine exactly which brands or vehicles Apple's car will directly compete with without more details, it's safe to say that the tech company will face stiff competition no matter what type of vehicle it eventually builds (or puts its name on).
If the company heads in the same direction as its consumer devices and builds an upmarket luxury car, its most formidable competitor will likely be Tesla, which currently dominates the EV market and is the world's most valuable carmaker.
Tesla's also one of the industry's leaders in driver-assistance tech. The company's crossovers and sedans already come with a driver-assistance system called Autopilot, and CEO Elon Musk claims that the company's more advanced "full self-driving" feature - which doesn't actually make vehicles fully autonomous - will be available soon.
But plenty of other luxury brands are trying to carve out some of Tesla's market share by launching new EVs in the near future. An Apple sedan might come up against future four-doors like the Lucid Air (due out in 2021), BMW i4 (due out in 2022), or Audi E-Tron GT (due in 2021). Mercedes-Benz, for its part, plans to launch six new battery-powered models by 2022, including the EQS and EQE sedans.
As US consumer demand for sedans dwindles and appetite for compact crossovers grows, Apple may very well opt to build a high-end SUV instead. In that case, the iPhone maker would need to fend off rivals like the Rivian R1S, BMW iX, Porsche Macan EV, and Mercedes-Benz EQC.
Cadillac, which has one of the best driver-assistance systems on the marketand is set to become GM's all-electric brand, may also pose a threat to Apple's ambitions. Its flagship Lyriq crossover will enter production in 2022 and will be equipped with GM's new Ultium battery technology along with the latest iteration of Super Cruise.
The driver-assistance feature, which allows for hands-free driving on some highways, claimed the title as the top driver-assistance system on the market this year in Consumer Reports' testing, beating out Tesla's Autopilot.
Apple's battery technology - which is "next level" and will "radically" decrease battery cost, according to Reuters' report - may allow it to manufacture a budget-friendly EV to compete with the likes of the Volkswagen ID.4 or Nissan Ariya, which will both cost roughly $40,000 and will hit the US market next year. Subaru and Toyota are jointly developing an electric vehicle due by 2025.
Experts say Apple may be able to pull off its ambitious EV project thanks to its deep cash reserves, ability to attract talent, and strong brand name. And Apple's proven capacity to develop innovative technology along with its new battery technology may help its car stand out from the ever-growing pack.
Still, according to Monday's Reuters report, there's a chance that Apple doesn't build its own Apple-branded vehicle at all. Sources said the tech company may choose to integrate its autonomous systems and battery packs into an existing automaker's vehicles.