Apple Car could drive off the lot in only 5 years

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Apple car
If an analyst is correct, the Apple Car could be your next vehicle.
Photo: Aristomenis Tsirbas/Freelancer

One of the secret-but-not-really-secret projects Apple is working on is a self-driving vehicle. A well-respected analyst just gave his estimate of when this will be released.

Not only does Ming-Chi Kuo indicate that the “Apple Car” will debut between 2023 and 2025, he also lays out reasons why the product will be a success.

As a bonus, Kuo indicates when to expect Apple’s augmented-reality headset.

Apple Car will be a ‘star product’

The analyst from TF International Securities sent out a research note that says, in part:

“We expect that Apple Car, which will likely be launched in 2023–2025, will be the next star product. The reasons for this are as follows: (1) Potentially huge replacement demands are emerging in the auto sector because it is being redefined by new technologies. The case is the same as the smartphone sector 10 years ago; (2) Apple’s leading technology advantages (e.g. AR) would redefine cars and differentiate Apple Car from peers’ products; (3) Apple’s service will grow significantly by entering the huge car finance market via Apple Car, and (4) Apple can do a better integration of hardware, software, and service than current competitors in the consumer electronics sector and potential competitors in the auto sector.”

Kuo’s comments indicate that he thinks Apple is working on a whole car, not just self-driving technology to be licensed to car makers, as some unnamed sources had indicated earlier.

Apple Car beyond the rumors

There have unconfirmed reports that Apple is working on an autonomous car since 2014. It supposedly goes by the code-name Project Titan. This summer, some solid evidence of the project emerged, not just hearsay. 

During an FBI investigation of stolen trade secrets, the indictment of the alleged perpetrator specifically indicated that Apple has approximately 2,700 employees working on “a project to develop software and hardware for use in autonomous vehicles.”

In addition, Apple just hired away the VP of Vehicle Programs from Tesla. He was formerly employed to oversee the development of electric vehicles. This came a couple months after a senior self-driving car engineer jumped from Google’s Waymo to Apple.

AR goggles in 2020

Another open-secret is Apple’s work on augment reality glasses. Most of the company’s AR software efforts are public, and can be seen in ARKit 2.0 coming this fall. But rumors of related hardware circulated as well.

Ming-Chi Kuo’s latest note to investors says:

“Apple has always grown significantly after redefining existing and new products by innovating its UIs (e.g. Mac’s mouse, iPod’s click wheel and iPhone’s multi-touch) in the past. We expect Apple will redefine the UIs of existing products by offering an AR experience created by the AR glass, which will likely be launched in 2020.”

The analyst didn’t give any more details on possible hardware. A previous rumor indicated that the AR (or possibly a virtual reality) helmet will sport dual 8K screens.