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  • Writer's pictureSafer Highways

Apple targets car production by 2024 and eyes 'next level' battery technology.

Apple Inc is moving forward with self-driving car technology and is targeting 2024 to produce a passenger vehicle that could include its own breakthrough battery technology, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The iPhone maker’s automotive efforts, known as Project Titan, have proceeded unevenly since 2014 when it first started to design its own vehicle from scratch. At one point, Apple drew back the effort to focus on software and reassessed its goals. Doug Field, an Apple veteran who had worked at Tesla Inc, returned to oversee the project in 2018 and laid off 190 people from the team in 2019.

Since then, Apple has progressed enough that it now aims to build a vehicle for consumers, two people familiar with the effort said, asking not to be named because Apple’s plans are not public. Apple’s goal of building a personal vehicle for the mass market contrasts with rivals such as Alphabet Inc’s Waymo, which has built robo-taxis to carry passengers for a driverless ride-hailing service.

The mass market vehicle is different from other self-driving cars developed by companies such as Google’s Waymo, in that while it may have self-driving technology bundled with it, it will still be a normal car too.

It follows a report in Taiwan’s Economic Daily News, citing unnamed executives in the country’s manufacturing sector, claiming that Apple has been secretly testing dozens of prototype vehicles in California.

According to Reuters’ sources, the company has developed a new battery design that would “radically” reduce the cost of the electric car batteries as well as increase the vehicle’s range.

But the project would come with challenges and take Apple outside of its comfort zone in terms of establishing new supply chains that could enable it to produce vehicles rather than electronic gadgets.

Elon Musk’s Tesla took 17 years before it finally turned a profit making cars, as Reuters reported, due to the volume of vehicles that need to be produced for the manufacturing to become profitable.

It isn’t clear whether Apple would assemble the Apple-branded vehicle itself or turn to manufacturing partners, and the company could yet simply focus on developing an AI driving system that could be used with another company’s vehicles.

A car produced by Apple would be considered the company’s “next star product”, according to Ming-Chi Kuo, a veteran Apple analyst for TF International Securities.

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