Apple's Car First Major Step Falls Into Place

Apple Inc (NASDAQ: AAPL) car rumors have run a wide spread of what the vehicle might do and who might help build it. Will the car run on electricity? Yes. Will it be autonomous? Almost certainly. Who will the manufacturing partner be? Kia? Hyundai? Or, are negotiations underway with someone else?

The first major component of the vehicle appears to have fallen into place. According to Bloomberg:

Apple Inc. is in discussions with multiple suppliers of self-driving car sensors known as lidar, according to people familiar with the matter, a key milestone toward development of its first passenger vehicle.

The lidar helps drive safety systems via sensing objects around the car so that it can avoid them. Parts of similar systems already exist in most modern luxury cars.

Apple watchers continue to look for signals that an Apple car will be a reality and not a rumor. Apple may launch the vehicle in 2024, according to press reports. If so, it will need to establish partnerships soon. The design and manufacturing phases could take years to get in place.

Much of the car industry–Apple’s eventual competitors–think the car is a reality. VW’s management recently said Apple software skills make it an ideal creator of the car of the future. At the same time, they said they are more than ready for the threat.

And, the extent to which Apple actually moves into the business will show whether the largest car companies like VW need to be anxious. Many industry experts have commented that Apple’s biggest target will be Tesla, which produced 500,000 vehicles last year, and say it will increase that by 50% this year.

The Apple timetable must also coincide with actual EV and AV adoption. Most large car companies plan to have fleets with only EVs by 2030 or 2035. AV target dates remain similar. However, research has started to show that millions of consumers may be slow to give up gas-powered vehicles. They remain familiar to the public and easy to fuel. Charging station networks and the speed at which batteries can be charged could affect buying. So could the price of gas, and the price of the EVs.

If Apple has started to collect components for its car, it remains short of success for two reasons. It needs a manufacturing partner. And, it needs a ready market for its car.

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