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Apple’s self-driving car might be a lot different than we think

Published Feb 21st, 2019 6:35PM EST
Apple Car
Image: Shutterstock

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A somewhat curious report out of Germany claims that Apple hasn’t abandoned work on developing its own branded car. Even more bizarre, though, is a tidbit that Apple’s long-rumored electric car may not be a car at all, but rather an electric van.

Originally posted in the German-language Manager Magazin, the report claims that Apple has been busy working on van prototypes as it continues to expend R&D resources investigating a wide array of auto-related components, from battery technology to advanced electric motors.

“Apple’s engineers have designed specimens with black and silver paint, designed in the typical industrial design of the iPhone group,” the report adds. “Apple also researches on its own batteries, electric motors, special seats and interior components.”

While many Apple rumors should be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism, this particular rumor is especially hard to believe. Recall, the report comes just a few weeks after word emerged that Apple cut upwards of 200 employees from Project Titan, the company’s automotive research initiative. What’s more, more credible sources over the past few months have relayed that Apple’s focus in the automotive realm has shifted away from releasing a branded car and is now solely focused on developing self-driving technology.

Indeed, Apple CEO Tim Cook said as much during a 2017 interview.

“We’re focusing on autonomous systems,” Cook said during an interview with Bloomberg. “It’s a core technology that we view as very important. It’s probably one of the most difficult A.I. projects actually to work on.”

In the interim, reputed analyst Ming-Chi Kuo remains confident that an Apple branded car may still be in the works and may hit the streets as early as 2025. Should Kuo prove to be right, and that’s a huge if, it’s hard to imagine Apple being so dumb as to actually enter the hyper-competitive auto industry with an electric van of all things.

Lastly, and on a related note, Apple yesterday released a remarkably short white paper detailing its ongoing efforts in the field of self-driving car technologies.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.