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The Apple car apparently still exists, could debut in 2028

Apple Car

Apple’s much-anticipated “Apple Car” project is undergoing a significant transformation, shifting away from its original plan for a fully self-driving vehicle to a model more in line with Tesla’s electric cars. The expected launch timeline has been adjusted, with the current projection aiming for no earlier than 2028, extending beyond the company’s initial target by two years.

The autonomous features of the envisioned “Apple Car” have undergone revisions as well. Initially planned as a Level 5 system, offering complete automation, it has now been scaled back to a Level 4 system, indicating full automation in specific scenarios. The latest update suggests a further reduction to a Level 2+ system, providing partial automation with features like lane centering and braking/accelerating support, requiring the driver’s full attention.

In contrast to Apple’s initial vision of a steering wheel-less and pedal-less vehicle, possibly with a remote command center taking over for the driver, the current outlook aligns more closely with Tesla’s market approach.

This strategic shift within Apple is considered a pivotal moment internally, with potential implications for the entire project. Discussions have taken place with potential manufacturing partners in Europe to implement this updated strategy. While the long-term goal is to introduce a Level 4 autonomous system, the initial launch is expected to take a more grounded approach.

The decision-making process leading to this shift was described as “frenzied,” involving key figures such as CEO Tim Cook, the Apple board, and project head Kevin Lynch, who took over from former leader Doug Field in 2021. The board, seeking clarity on the car plan throughout 2023, played a significant role in the decision.

In the broader context of the autonomous vehicle landscape, self-driving cars faced challenges in 2023, exemplified by setbacks at Cruise, GM’s robotaxi division. On the positive side, Waymo appears to be making progress. Apple’s Project Titan, with its long history of rumors and changing details, continues to evolve, emphasizing the dynamic nature of this high-stakes initiative.

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