Tesla is a behemoth in the auto industry. As of now, it is the most valued automaker in the world. At the initial phases of the company, it was highly disregarded by the critics saying that Tesla is bound to doom one way or another. Those doubts persisted until very recently, where Tesla really started to break through to the mass market with model 3 and model Y.
What Tesla did was a revolution, so it is natural for every other electric car maker to target Tesla as their main opponent whether they mention it or not. There were failed attempts, somewhat successful attempts, and now there are many who enter the scene with a good potential to topple the Tesla.
The newest member of this group is Apple. Well, Apple is actually not new to the game by any means. Steve Jobs reportedly had the idea for an Apple car in 2008, when they were in the early years of the iPhone. But instead of that, they focused on the development of the iPhone. Finally, Apple started to break into the EV space in 2014 with the ‘Project Titan’. It was started as a research and development project and elected Vice President Steve Zadesky, a former Ford engineer as project in-charge. For the project, Apple was also rumored to have hired Johann Jungwirth, the former president, and chief executive of Mercedes-Benz Research and Development North America.
In the coming years, Apple was rumored to offer incentives to Tesla employees to join Apple. But Still, Apple was quiet about its self-driving technology. Only by 2015, Tim Cook stated their interest in the field.
“It would seem like there will be a massive change in that industry, massive change. You may not agree with that. That’s what I think…We’ll see what we do in the future. I do think that the industry is at an inflection point for massive change.” -October 2015, Tim Cook
Apple also reportedly partnered with Volkswagen in 2018. Although hundreds of Apple employees are working on an electric car in all these years, it is rumored that the project’s focus has now shifted to developing self-driving car software instead of an actual car.
But it is not certain as a reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes that Apple is still working on an Apple Car that will launch between 2023 and 2025. Kuo believes the car will be Apple’s “next star product” with Apple able to offer “better integration of hardware, software, and services” than potential competitors in the automotive market.
Apple is already a tech giant, and it might have the biggest potential to challenge Tesla out of all the “Tesla killers”. They already have a loyal fan base devoted to the Apple ecosystem which was built well over a decade now. And it is not a surprise at all if Apple car comes with a custom version of iOS, similar to Android Automotive.
Apple might have the biggest potential to challenge Tesla out of all the “Tesla killers”.
As one of the wealthiest companies around, they have plenty of money to spend on new projects compared to other new EV startups. And Apple’s recent interest in Lidar technology may also be the lead star in their self-driving technology as it has great potential compared to the systems used in the present.
But even for Apple, it is not an easy task to give Tesla a challenge in EV space. Tesla already has a huge manufacturing capacity which expands every year and it would take years for Apple to make it there if they ever will. And Apple also has no experience in designing and manufacturing every part of an automobile, which is probably the most difficult aspect in developing a mass-market vehicle. So to make a hit at the Tesla empire, Apple has to make some serious effort and they have a lot of ground to cover after entering the market.
Tesla has already established itself as the gold standard in the EV market, so it will be difficult to de-throne them just by making an electric car. But the biggest plus point for Apple is its brand name, which is polished over the years as a reliable tech giant. So compared to any EV startup, they are few steps ahead in the race to take on Tesla.
But no matter what, it is exciting to see Apple and its’ ecosystem entering the EV space. Apple is a proven company on the software and hardware fronts and it will definitely be a top notch product that comes out from them. Since Apple is very secretive about their projects it is very difficult to predict or say when this will exactly come out from the wild.
But we can expect it to be a high-end vehicle with great features and iOS integration. And it would be great to have good competition in the EV market as it will lead only to better products. So let’s wait and see whether Apple actually tries to topple Tesla in their own den in the next few years.
Original Publication by Hasindu Ariyarathna at Medium.
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