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We’ve been hearing bits of information about Apple’s secretive Project Titan self-driving car division for years now, but a new report from Reuters finally provides some more concrete details on the tech giant’s automotive plans. According to the report, Apple could start production on its own electric vehicle as early as 2024.
At the heart of the car is a battery that features a “breakthrough” monocell design. It would reportedly allow the company to add more active material to the power cell, thereby offering greater range. Apple is also exploring the possibility of using a lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery chemistry. While they’re not as dense as other types of batteries, LFP power cells are less prone to overheating and they don’t require cobalt. That latter point is important. More than 60 percent of the world’s cobalt supply comes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the country’s mines have become notorious for using child labor. “It’s next level. Like the first time you saw the iPhone,” a Reuters source said of Apple’s battery technology.
The car may also feature multiple LiDAR sensors for understanding the surrounding area. In addition to sourcing those components from outside suppliers, Apple could repurpose the LiDAR sensors it created for the iPhone 12 Pro and iPad Pro for the task.
According to Reuters, work on the car has progressed far enough since Apple laid off 200 employees from the Project Titan team that the company plans to “build a vehicle for consumers.” The company is likely to tap an outside partner to help with manufacturing. However, Reuters warns that pandemic-related delays could push back production into 2025 or later, and that there’s a chance Apple decides to reduce the scope of the project.
That is, rather than building its own car, it could work with traditional automakers to integrate whatever technology it develops into their vehicles, much like it already does with CarPlay. We wouldn’t hold Apple to a 2024 release date just yet — a conflicting report earlier in the week gave a much more aggressive timeline. Clearly, Apple is working on some kind of car technology, but the scope of the project continues to evolve.