New Apple Car rumor suggests 2026 debut at less than $100,000

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited December 2022
The Apple Car may be further away than thought, with a new rumors saying that the company has pushed the potential launch date into 2026, at a price less than $100,000.

A car with an Apple logo
A car with an Apple logo


Apple Car has been a highly anticipated project for observers of the iPhone maker, with it being a product that could push Apple to the next trillion in value. However, it seems there may be a longer wait before anyone will be able to buy a car from the company, with Apple making a number of changes to the project as a whole.

According to people familiar with Apple's secret project, speaking to Bloomberg, it has been stuck for a number of months, with executives having trouble dealing with the concept of a vehicle without a steering wheel working with currently available technologies.

Less autonomy

Rather than a full-blown self-driving system, Apple is instead now planning on a design of car that is more conventional, complete with steering wheel and pedals. Fully-autonomous driving will still be available, but only on highways, the sources claim.

Previously, Apple wanted to offer a vehicle with "Level 5" autonomy, namely a vehicle that could drive on any human-drivable road. It would effectively allow passengers to specify a destination and arrive there without much further input, like an automated taxi.

Such a level of autonomy would enable a room-on-wheels approach to become a reality, in that users wouldn't necessarily need to be in a driving seat with immediately usable and direct controls available.

Under the new plans, drivers will still able to perform other tasks, such as watching a movie or doing work, when the car is driving itself along a freeway. Drivers could then be warned ahead of time when they need to transition to manual driving, in cases of sudden bad weather or near to populated areas.

Price cuts and delays

As well as a change in timescale, Apple is also apparently altering its pricing plans too. Initially expecting to sell the Apple Car for more than $120,000, Apple is now thought to be planning for it to cost consumers less than $100,000.

This would put the Apple Car in the same price bracket as a current entry-level Tesla Model S.

Aside from a possible 2026 launch, Apple is said to be still working on the design in a "pre-prototype" stage, sources claim. The timescale of development could see a design completed by the end of 2024, with extensive testing in 2025.

Late 2021 reports said Apple was previously aiming for a 2025 release.

Onboard processing, costly cloud usage

Currently, the Apple Car's onboard computer, titled Denali, has a processor with approximately four times the performance of Apple's highest-end Mac chip, one still being developed by its silicon engineering group. That chip is believed to have reached an advanced state of development and is close to being production ready, though it may still get scaled down before the car's release.

The system also uses LiDAR and radar sensors, as well as cameras, to see the road and its environment. This system is augmented by a cloud-based system hosted on Amazon Web Services, at a cost of around $125 million per year.

Apple is also thought to be spending around $1 billion annually on the Apple Car at its current state.

Despite quite a few years of development, Apple's interest level in the project has changed from time to time. After years of relative quiet, it reportedly regained focus in September, and was working to rebuild the project team by the end of 2022.

This has included some high-profile hires, including a veteran Lamborghini executive in July, and a safety engineering expert from Ford in May. It's also had its fair share of departures, including one engineer who left Apple six months after joining the project, and in September 2021, Ford poached project lead Doug Field.

Meanwhile the existing team had to reportedly deal with its own setbacks, including repeatedly needing to prove the project's worthiness to management. There were claims that "constantly-shifting goals" were causing problems in a July report on the project, as well as a "revolving door of leaders" that promoted uncertainty in the operation.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 38
    cg27cg27 Posts: 188member
    Now that Tim and Elon have kissed and made up, why not seal the deal and merge?  Apple will have a difficult time catching up to Tesla’s tech lead.
    grandact73williamlondon
  • Reply 2 of 38
    Remember several years ago when there was all kinds of talk about an Apple TV with speculation that Apple was going to sell a television?  Yes, they were working on Apple TV but it wasn’t a television at all.  
    darkvadercaladanian
  • Reply 3 of 38
    designrdesignr Posts: 784member
    holtzd said:
    Remember several years ago when there was all kinds of talk about an Apple TV with speculation that Apple was going to sell a television?  Yes, they were working on Apple TV but it wasn’t a television at all.  
    Thing is, it could have been a TV. In fact, I'd be surprised if they didn't prototype and research such a product. They likely just determined they could make just as much money—maybe more— selling a small box that you plug into your TV.

    NOTE: Apple could even flesh out their TV offering by doing an HomePod TV that's some kind of sound bar w/Apple TV built in. Now they can sell a multi-hundred $ device that ships for less (they can fit 10-20 sound bars in the same space as a 55" TV) with margins as high or higher than a TV.

    Similarly, they may have prototyped and researched doing their own in-car stereo unit but ended up partnering/licensing with existing makers to deploy Car Play.

    The same thing might end up unfolding with an Apple Car in some way.

    edited December 2022
  • Reply 4 of 38
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,639member
    Wow. Under $100,000.  What a bargain.   The price of EV’s has fallen each year and there are great cars for less than half that price from Hyundai and others. 

    If Apple release a close to $100,000 car, IMO, that’s really going to hurt their brand and “supersize” the notion that there’s an Apple Tax and that Apple only produces products for the rich and elite. 

    How many cars would they sell a year at that price?  Probably under 5000.  Hardly seems worth it.  
    elijahggrandact73darkvaderwilliamlondon
  • Reply 5 of 38
    designrdesignr Posts: 784member
    zoetmb said:
    Wow. Under $100,000.  What a bargain.   The price of EV’s has fallen each year and there are great cars for less than half that price from Hyundai and others. 

    If Apple release a close to $100,000 car, IMO, that’s really going to hurt their brand and “supersize” the notion that there’s an Apple Tax and that Apple only produces products for the rich and elite. 

    How many cars would they sell a year at that price?  Probably under 5000.  Hardly seems worth it.  
    Given that, according to Kelley Blue Book and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average new car price as of September 2022 is $48,000 I'm not sure Apple debuting—in four years—in the $100,000 neighborhood is so crazy. Especially if you consider they'll likely push toward the higher end anyway.

    Don't get me wrong, these prices are a bit nutty. But it does seem to be a reality.

    edited December 2022
  • Reply 6 of 38
    danoxdanox Posts: 1,537member
    zoetmb said:
    Wow. Under $100,000.  What a bargain.   The price of EV’s has fallen each year and there are great cars for less than half that price from Hyundai and others. 

    If Apple release a close to $100,000 car, IMO, that’s really going to hurt their brand and “supersize” the notion that there’s an Apple Tax and that Apple only produces products for the rich and elite. 

    How many cars would they sell a year at that price?  Probably under 5000.  Hardly seems worth it.  
    Most EV’s are very expensive you know the one you actually want, get a Prius  https://www.toyota.com/prius/
  • Reply 7 of 38
    Everything about their pursuit of a car without a steering wheel seems a bit off in the clouds to me. There are laws requiring steering wheels on cars. They have to be mostly round. Elon Musk ran into that when he wanted a rectangular steering wheel on one of Tesla's cars. 
    libertyandfreewilliamlondon
  • Reply 8 of 38
    designrdesignr Posts: 784member
    docbburk said:
    Everything about their pursuit of a car without a steering wheel seems a bit off in the clouds to me. There are laws requiring steering wheels on cars. They have to be mostly round. Elon Musk ran into that when he wanted a rectangular steering wheel on one of Tesla's cars. 
    Really? A rectangular steering "wheel"?! Why?

  • Reply 9 of 38
    I am as big of an Apple fan as any, but c'mon, it seems to be awfully silly of them to pretend that they're still in this.
  • Reply 10 of 38
    docbburk said:
    Everything about their pursuit of a car without a steering wheel seems a bit off in the clouds to me. There are laws requiring steering wheels on cars. They have to be mostly round. Elon Musk ran into that when he wanted a rectangular steering wheel on one of Tesla's cars. 
    I drive a 2022 Model S with the yoke (what you're calling a "rectangular") steering wheel. It is not only perfectly legal in the USA, I find the yoke shape to be remarkably obvious and intuitive. After nearly 45 years of driving with circular steering wheels, I am asking, 'WTF was that all about?!" Sort of similar to my feeling when I first used the scroll wheel on my iPod, in 2021.
    caladanianwilliamlondon
  • Reply 11 of 38
    JP234JP234 Posts: 793member
    100% against Apple becoming a carmaker. History suggests that virtually ALL carmakers in America fail sooner or later, usually sooner (There are literally hundreds of dead American automakers, some really really great, like Auburn, Cord, Duesenberg, Packard, Studebaker, Nash, American Motors to name just a few). Sure, there are exceptions, but the investment required to pull off a successful launch and sustain sales is in the tens of billions of dollars, possibly hundreds. I've been a fan of Apple, a former Apple professional employee, and an Apple-driven entrepeneur. But this venture is, IMHO, an enormous mistake.

    Apple should continue to focus like a laser beam on core competencies in hardware, software and services, and ignore the siren call of diworseification (apologies to Peter Lynch). Leverage what you do right for maxmimum growth, rather than a futile effort to grow through acquisition.

    Here's a link to defunct automakers. Read it and then calculate the ratio of success to failure, and you'll get my point: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_defunct_automobile_manufacturers_of_the_United_States
    darkvader
  • Reply 12 of 38
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 2,774member
    Chevy says I will be soon able to walk into a showroom with $30,000 and exchange it for a new EV Equinox.

    <holds breath>
    darkvadermaltz
  • Reply 13 of 38
    JP234 said:
    100% against Apple becoming a carmaker. History suggests that virtually ALL carmakers in America fail sooner or later, usually sooner (There are literally hundreds of dead American automakers, some really really great, like Auburn, Cord, Duesenberg, Packard, Studebaker, Nash, American Motors to name just a few). Sure, there are exceptions, but the investment required to pull off a successful launch and sustain sales is in the tens of billions of dollars, possibly hundreds. I've been a fan of Apple, a former Apple professional employee, and an Apple-driven entrepeneur. But this venture is, IMHO, an enormous mistake.

    Apple should continue to focus like a laser beam on core competencies in hardware, software and services, and ignore the siren call of diworseification (apologies to Peter Lynch). Leverage what you do right for maxmimum growth, rather than a futile effort to grow through acquisition.

    Here's a link to defunct automakers. Read it and then calculate the ratio of success to failure, and you'll get my point: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_defunct_automobile_manufacturers_of_the_United_States
    I think this is mostly correct. There may be moments in history where a disruptor (possibly Apple) could wedge in and overturn the status quo. But it's an uphill battle. I also think many people underestimate the magnitude and complexity of car manufacturing. The products Apple has done to date pale in comparison. All that said Apple is the king of the hill in marrying (so far digital) hardware and software into a seamless, fluid experience. Where Apple might be able to pull this off is if car manufacturing can essentially be viewed as a commoditized, outsourceable service (like manufacturing smartphones), and Apple is able to bring their design expertise, software, and manufacturing and logistics oversight to produce a new product. That might work.
    JP234
  • Reply 14 of 38
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,877moderator
    JP234 said:
    100% against Apple becoming a carmaker. History suggests that virtually ALL carmakers in America fail sooner or later, usually sooner (There are literally hundreds of dead American automakers, some really really great, like Auburn, Cord, Duesenberg, Packard, Studebaker, Nash, American Motors to name just a few). Sure, there are exceptions, but the investment required to pull off a successful launch and sustain sales is in the tens of billions of dollars, possibly hundreds. I've been a fan of Apple, a former Apple professional employee, and an Apple-driven entrepeneur. But this venture is, IMHO, an enormous mistake.

    Apple should continue to focus like a laser beam on core competencies in hardware, software and services, and ignore the siren call of diworseification (apologies to Peter Lynch). Leverage what you do right for maxmimum growth, rather than a futile effort to grow through acquisition.

    Here's a link to defunct automakers. Read it and then calculate the ratio of success to failure, and you'll get my point: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_defunct_automobile_manufacturers_of_the_United_States
    There are similar lists of computer and phone companies:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Defunct_computer_companies_of_the_United_States
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Defunct_mobile_phone_manufacturers

    What's important is why they went out of business, not that they went out of business. A lot of companies are like PC box and Android phone companies where they buy the parts and just assemble them. They have very little USP. If you don't have good design, marketing, ecosystem, support, then you are competing on price and margins, which will inevitably lose the more that people can afford the products from companies that do have all those things. Apple's used products are more appealing than brand new products from low margin companies.

    Most of the car companies were also making combustion engine vehicles. If Apple was making a combustion engine vehicle, they'd likely need to get an expensive engine from a 3rd party and setup a network of maintenance shops. Electric engines change the whole game.

    Apple also has hundreds of billions of dollars. Investing $100b would allow them to build over 1m vehicles.
    designrrundhvidbadmonk
  • Reply 15 of 38
    Oh look, this again.

    No, Apple is not going to build a car.  Apple is definitely not got to release a car in 2026, with or without a steering wheel.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 16 of 38
    Any car I would buy for more than $100 Grand better have a dancing Italian horse on it.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 17 of 38
    I am highly confident that Tesla will be at SAE International Level 5 by 2026. If you watch the YouTube videos then you will see how super close they are. All without LiDAR or radar sensors. If Tesla never existed then you would not be seeing any, much less most car companies going electric. They are doing it because they feel they have to in order to not be left behind.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 18 of 38
    I am as big of an Apple fan as any, but c'mon, it seems to be awfully silly of them to pretend that they're still in this.
    I used to feel this way too, before it became obvious that electric cars were coming on so quickly. When cars were about grease, spark plugs, oil, and gasoline explosions it was obvious that Apple was not in this league. But now cars are going to be about electronics, circuitry, computer control, and user interface I am not so quick to shut the door. Yes, Detroit has running gear and body panels down Pat, but because of other changes are on much more of an equal footing with newcomers who have the new new technologies. 
    Xed
  • Reply 19 of 38
    thttht Posts: 4,725member
    Rather than a full-blown self-driving system, Apple is instead now planning on a design of car that is more conventional, complete with steering wheel and pedals. Fully-autonomous driving will still be available, but only on highways, the sources claim. 
    They are about 5 years late with making this decision. Jony Ive, Bob Mansfield, Tim Cook, et al lost Apple at least 5 years. It's as if they had a chip on their shoulder about "machine learning" about 6 or 7 years ago when the media pounded them on being behind Google on ML, and it was autonomous or bust for the car.

    They should have really known that the auto industry moves a whole lot slower than computers, people adjust a lot slower, and there were rather large strategic assets that they needed to cultivate. What a waste of what? 5 to 8 billion dollars?
  • Reply 20 of 38
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 2,919member
    cg27 said:
    Now that Tim and Elon have kissed and made up, why not seal the deal and merge?  Apple will have a difficult time catching up to Tesla’s tech lead.
    Now more than ever, we need a “dislike” button
    williamlondonJP234
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