Xiaomi is currently eight months pregnant with building a car and is just waiting to see the results.
We have seen car manufacturers cross-border to make mobile phones, and we have also seen car manufacturers acquire mobile phone manufacturers to create an industry ecosystem, but it seems to be the only mobile phone manufacturer to cross-border to make cars from its own industry. Of course, Jia Yueting's "ecological counter-revolution" concept is too advanced, so we won't discuss it for now.
Even if we leave aside Jia Yueting, the title of the first cross-border person may not belong to Xiaomi at first. As early as 2014, Apple was exposed to the existence of the "Project Titan" car-making project. Unfortunately, after nine years of struggling, we have still not seen the debut of a pure electric model with the Apple logo. The number one player in the world will also officially change hands.
Regarding the controversial "Project Titan", an article written by the foreign media autoevolution allows us to "peep" Apple's car-building progress from more reliable speculations.
Compilation points to read in advance:
- Rumors of Apple advancing its car-building project first appeared in 2014. Tesla’s launch of the pure electric sports car Roadster in 2008 became an opportunity for Steve Jobs to consider building a car.
- "Project Titan" was first exposed in 2014. Apple recruited more than 1,000 automotive experts and engineers in the project, including former Ford engineer Steve Zadesky and many other well-known figures.
- In 2015, Apple board member Mickey Drexler confirmed the existence of Apple's car-building project for the first time; the following year, Musk confirmed the authenticity of Apple's car-building project.
- In 2016, it was revealed that Apple's Project Titan was on hold, and the project's focus began to shift to autonomous driving software development. After encountering obstacles in seeking cooperation with traditional car manufacturers to build cars, Apple's focus on car manufacturing has swung between vehicle manufacturing and autonomous driving development.
- Apple has hired a group of outstanding automotive designers to design Apple cars, including former Aston Martin interior manager Duncan Taylor, former Aston Martin chief concept engineer Pete Jolley, and former Tesla exterior and interior vice president. President Steve MacManus
- Due to the existence of John Ive, the relationship between Lucid and Apple has become slightly ambiguous, and the market speculates on the possibility of cooperation between the two.
- Last year, Apple's car-making team was disbanded. Given the poor self-driving test data, the focus of Apple's car-making projects may shift to the development of more traditional electric models.
- Apple is not a firm supporter of purely visual solutions, and the long-invested lidar technology may be used in new cars.
- Apple's method of building cars has not yet been confirmed. In addition to choosing third-party contract manufacturers to cooperate, Apple can also choose to acquire established start-up car companies.
- Positioned as a high-end model, it is estimated that the price will be below 100,000 US dollars.
The following is the full text compilation:
Rumors of Apple building a car began in 2014.
Due to Apple's strict culture of secrecy, we still don't know whether an electric car with the Apple logo will appear. In the past nine years, Apple's car-making projects have begun to end and restart, the car-making team has also been established and disbanded, and it has repeatedly struggled between patent applications and forgetfulness. To this day, we can only get some educated guesses about Apple's car project from rumors.
In the past, automobile manufacturing has been considered one of the industries with extremely high barriers to entry. While traditional automobile manufacturers cooperate and compete with each other, they continue to strengthen this "fortress" that is difficult to penetrate. Few young automobile manufacturers can enter. market and survive.
However, the situation is changing dramatically. In the past decade, there have been many more "new star" players entering the automotive industry than in the previous 100 years.
Twenty years ago, there was a strong consensus in the auto industry that only about 10 automakers in the world would survive. Especially after the 2008 financial crisis, the global "bankruptcy wave" has convinced people of this view. Interestingly, the economic recovery ultimately reversed course for the auto industry.
Elon Musk redefined electric cars, and Tesla proved that car manufacturing is no longer the "patent" of traditional car manufacturers. From then on, everything changed. China's automobile industry began to welcome new car brands, and many of the models launched were comparable to even the best Western car manufacturers.
The "dawn" of the electric vehicle era has made it extremely difficult for traditional car brands to survive. Tesla has proven that it's possible to challenge traditional powerhouses, and everyone wants a piece of the action. The world has fallen into a "car-making boom" and the number of new electric vehicle projects has surged. Almost every company with some spare cash wants to produce its own electric vehicles.
And at this "crazy" time of land development, rumors of Apple building a car appeared for the first time.
▲Picture from: REUTERS
Apple has more capital to build cars than any automaker. If only one company can replicate Tesla's success in the auto market, it will only be Apple. At the same time, the industry trend that continues to shift towards intelligence shows that customers are more willing to buy "smart" smart electric vehicles.
Since Apple can create the best smart devices in the world, if it wants to enter the automobile industry, Apple only needs to find a way to install wheels on the "computer" it is proud of.
The rumored Titan project
In 2014, Apple's secret project "Project Titan" was first exposed. It was reported that Apple recruited more than 1,000 engineers and experts to promote its own car project.
Almost everyone expects Apple to move forward with its car project quickly, especially since it has hired many high-profile figures from other automakers, including former Ford engineer Steve Zadesky, the former president and chief executive of Mercedes-Benz North America R&D. Officer Johann Jungwirth and at least one transmission engineer.
At the time, people thought Apple would beat Tesla in electric vehicles. A person familiar with the matter revealed that Apple co-founder Steve Jobs has been considering designing and manufacturing electric vehicles since Tesla launched the Roadster in 2008. In February 2015, Apple board member Mickey Drexler confirmed for the first time in a speech that Apple was developing a car.
▲ Picture from: REUTERS
Current Apple CEO Tim Cook was one of the first to admit that the automotive industry was about to face major changes.
In October 2015, Cook discussed the importance of software growth, the rise of self-driving cars, and the shift to electric vehicles. Around the same time, Apple installed sensors on a batch of Lexus SUVs in a project called "Baja." Nowadays, in the San Francisco Bay Area, it is not uncommon to encounter a Lexus SUV equipped with sensors.
Apple is going to die personally
It's pretty hard to hide something if you hire over a thousand engineers to do it.
Apple's hiring spree has obviously been noticed. In 2016, Elon Musk confirmed the existence of Apple's Project Titan. In a BBC article, Musk's opinion was mentioned, "If you hire more than a thousand engineers to do one thing, it will be difficult to keep it secret." However, Musk does not regard Apple as a direct competitor. He believes that the emergence of Apple cars will only strengthen the electric vehicle industry.
In 2016, new news emerged that Apple had shelved Project Titan and was looking to develop professional infotainment systems to sell to device manufacturers, with many speculating that Apple considered the car project too complex.
However, later updated news showed that Apple began to focus on the research and development of autonomous driving systems. Apple was allowed to test autonomous vehicles in California. Tim Cook confirmed the news that Apple was focusing on autonomous systems in a subsequent interview with Bloomberg. However, Cook did not disclose whether Apple is producing complete vehicles. One year later, Apple registered 70 self-driving cars with the California Transportation Authority, second only to Cruise and Waymo.
Interestingly, during this period there was news that Apple began to seek partners, although in hindsight it was not successful.
It is reported that Apple has tried to persuade other luxury car brands to cooperate in promoting self-driving cars. Volkswagen, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Hyundai and Kia were among the automakers Apple approached, but those talks ultimately fell through. Considering that it is better at technology development than vehicle manufacturing, it is definitely a smart move for Apple to seek partners to build vehicles (Apple's signature product iPhone is also produced by third-party contractors).
Forced by the failure of the partnership, Apple re-examined its options and once again advanced its car-making project. However, it is no longer possible to confirm whether the project focus during this period is on autonomous driving research and development or vehicle manufacturing.
In an interview in 2021, when asked about the focus of Apple's car-building project, Tim Cook avoided the question of whether to build a complete car. He believed that Apple "likes to integrate hardware, software and services." This may be true on current Apple products, even though the company doesn't make its own devices.
The latest news shows that Apple is considering officially releasing its own car project sometime in 2026, but no one knows whether this will be self-driving software that empowers electric vehicles or a truly self-driving car.
The global electric vehicle market is becoming more and more fierce, and Tesla has already taken the biggest piece of the cake. If Apple wants to break the current electric vehicle market structure, it will have to subvert everyone's expectations with a brand-new car concept. The impression is just like iPhone 4. And this also involves the next question, can Apple create a disruptive electric vehicle product?
Automotive innovation comes to an end, next window
Apple has no shortage of examples of disruptive industries.
When the first iPhone was launched in 2007, most smartphones still required a stylus to press against a resistive screen. Although the first-generation iPhone made many mobile phone company executives sneer, the situation began to change dramatically with the launch of iPhone 3G in 2008. Today, 16 years later, Apple's smartphones account for more than 15% of the global market share.
This is why people are looking forward to another "iPhone moment" for Apple cars.
However, Tesla dominates the global electric vehicle market, and self-driving cars are becoming a reality step by step. Apple is almost nowhere to be found in this evolution. Everyone thinks that Apple still holds a trump card that will shock everyone when it releases its first model.
But is this really the case? What else can be innovated in the extremely "volume" electric car?
The latest breakthrough is Tesla's first FSD fully autonomous driving, which is being pursued by every peer in the smart car industry today. If Tesla successfully implements fully autonomous driving, this could be considered the next breakthrough. By now, Apple has lost what it takes to compete, let alone disrupt the market.
Some people even radically believe that unless humans find a more sustainable way to travel, cars have reached the end of their innovation journey. In Europe, people are fully aware that no matter what the energy structure is, cars will pollute the environment while driving. What's worse, cars also occupy an important position in urban centers. There are already hopes that cars can be eliminated in big cities, but even self-driving cars are still struggling to gain acceptance.
In North America, the situation is quite different. The special traffic environment makes cars still a "rigid necessity" in life, and this is why self-driving cars are regarded as key. It is not an exaggeration to say that autonomous driving is the next innovation window for electric vehicles.
Appearance design, meeting old friends
We've all seen design sketches and renderings of Apple cars at one point or another, and they all give the same feeling – they look like drawings by an 8-year-old child.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen brilliant drawings by eight-year-olds, but these renderings of an Apple car look like they’re from a cartoon. Any automaker launching a model like this would draw merciless ridicule from its peers.
Early sketches also looked like an Apple Magic Mouse with wheels. A report from last year claimed that Apple hired a group of top automotive designers to design their future cars. These include former Aston Martin interior manager Duncan Taylor, former Aston Martin chief concept engineer Pete Jolley, former Tesla vice president of exterior and interior Steve MacManus and former Porsche vice president of chassis development Manfred Harrer, the entire design The team looks star-studded.
In addition, there is news that Apple may acquire Lucid. From Apple's perspective, such a move makes perfect sense. Lucid has almost everything Apple needs. Both engineering prowess, car manufacturing expertise and a difficult financial situation made it an opportunity too hard to refuse.
Lucid is also linked to Apple's former chief designer Jony Ive, who was a board member of the financing company that pushed Lucid to go public. Jony Ive has always been interested in cars, and although there is no recent news linking him to Apple, if Ive wants to get involved in the car design world, he should prioritize the design of Lucid models before turning to Apple cars.
The center of gravity swings, making great breakthroughs
Despite all the rumors about Apple making a car, it's still not certain whether Apple will actually make one.
As mentioned earlier, Apple is a technology company and is not good at manufacturing. However, this does not preclude working with contract manufacturers to produce its own cars. There is no doubt that Apple has enough resources to design and develop a groundbreaking car. Coupled with many eye-catching automobile patents, it seems that it is not difficult to make a splash in the field of autonomous driving.
Apple is currently focusing its efforts on the research and development of self-driving systems. What is certain is that Apple hopes to launch a self-driving car, or at least a car with self-driving capabilities comparable to Tesla. Different from Apple's realization of vehicle manufacturing, Apple's self-driving ambitions are real and explicit, because almost everyone can see that Apple is testing this technology in California.
However, Apple's self-driving tests appear to have fallen short of expectations. According to a 2019 report from the California Transportation Authority, Apple clearly lags behind the 28 other companies participating in the test in the field of autonomous driving. In data comparison, it was found that during self-driving tests, Apple had the highest average failure rate per mile. Even so, Apple still believes that this result is designed for security reasons and the functionality is relatively conservative.
However, Apple's car-building plan is quite bold, and it feels a bit "big and bold". Some new evidence suggests the Apple car team was disbanded again last year. There is speculation that Apple may choose to launch a more traditional electric car first. This is similar to Tesla’s approach, which also plans to achieve fully autonomous driving based on its original models.
Not a fan of purely visual solutions
Apple is a strong supporter of lidar systems and has invested heavily in the technology. This is in stark contrast to Tesla’s purely visual approach, which believes cameras are all it needs to ensure safety.
In addition, Apple also has different opinions from Tesla when it comes to developing models. Apple seems more willing to believe that a minivan-style self-driving car will be more successful than a personal sedan. Apple has filed multiple patents related to this type of vehicle, including sliding doors, interior lighting, a sliding sunroof, a windshield that can display information to passengers, and windows with adjustable transparency, all signs supporting renderings of an Apple car. The style of a minivan appears in front of us.
▲Picture from: PEISERTDESIGN
In terms of important battery technology, Apple has tried to cooperate with CATL and LGES to produce battery cells. There are rumors that Apple will try to develop a "single battery" to eliminate gaps in the battery pack. At the same time, Apple also seems to be exploring wireless charging technology.
Positioning high-end, iPhone in cars
Apple will likely hire contract manufacturers to build its own electric vehicles. There are currently several contract manufacturers that could meet Apple's criteria, including long-time partner Foxconn. However, if Apple wants a luxury model, its options are very limited; another option is to acquire an established electric vehicle startup. Lucid may be the most suitable target for Apple to acquire.
However, no matter what method Apple chooses to mass-produce its car, it is unlikely to be a cheap model.
▲Picture from: JUSTIN SULLIVAN/BENZINGA
A report last year revealed that Apple might price the car below $100,000, which is the same price as other luxury electric cars on sale today. The Apple car will be positioned as a high-end model, and the price may even be higher. Apple wants to make an iPhone in the car.
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