According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the transportation industry contributed about 14 percent of the world’s carbon emissions in 2014 –making it the perfect industry to start mitigating pollution.
Reinventing the automotive industry is a huge business for tech companies in Silicon Valley, and Tesla is currently leading the charge with its state-of-the-art electric vehicles. These cars are Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEV) that emit very little atmospheric pollutants, thus curbing pollution to a great extent.
With more and more big players cashing in on this lucrative market, it is high time that Apple — the king of Silicon Valley — ventured into developing electric cars of its own. Or is an Apple electric car already in the works?
Apple’s electric car — also known as Project Titan
In 2015, the Financial Times claimed that a team of Apple employees, led by experienced managers from their iPhone unit, were researching automotive products in a top-secret research lab located near its Cupertino headquarters.
Gene Munster, Managing Director and Senior Analyst at Piper Jaffray, believes that it will take another 10 years for an Apple car to hit the market — and when it does, it might be a luxury vehicle that is 100 percent electric.
Apple has always been a strong advocate for sustainability and climate change. Building a 100 percent electric car would not only be consistent with their vision, but unlock more opportunities for them to fulfill it as well .
Other tech savvy car manufacturers who are equally passionate about the environment have already put their best feet forward and successfully launched the best electric cars in the market.
Potential Competitors of the Apple electric car
Though electric cars have a history dating back a hundred years, they weren’t widely received until the late 1990s. The Toyota Prius released in 1997 was a major turning point due to its incorporation of a nickel metal hydride battery, which was rechargable, environment friendly and widely supported by the U.S Energy Department.
Since then, the industry has produced many impressive models, many of which Apple could stand to emulate.
One of them is the BMW i-series, which boasts an electric drive that is significantly more efficient than petrol or diesel engines.
Renewable energy configures prominently into the production of BMW i automobiles. Wind turbines are installed onsite, and locally generated hydropower generates 100 percent of the energy needed to manufacture their carbon fiber components.
The Tesla Model-S, on the other hand, accelerates from zero to 60 mph in as little as 2.5 seconds and comes with an autopilot feature that has a safety level substantially greater than that of a human driver. Tesla batteries fuse with solar technology to harness the power of the sun, thereby reducing reliance on fossil fuels.
With so many competitors and such late entry, the Apple electric car may have to go the whole nine yards to stay ahead of the game.
How will the Apple electric car be different?
Apple knows a few tricks of the trade that could help them get a foothold in electric car manufacturing.
There is speculation that Apple may be working with a Korean manufacturer to develop hollow batteries. These are cylindrical lithium ion batteries with hollow centers, which improve cooling capacity by facilitating easy airflow.
The small but crucial mechanical adjustment reduces the need for additional cooling devices, making the units lighter, simpler and potentially cheaper over time.
Charging stations — or rather, the lack of them — initially hindered the popularity of electric cars. In response, Tesla developed its own charging system called Supercharger, while other automakers sought the assistance of infrastructure companies like ChargePoint and EVgo.
Apple is reportedly making efforts to develop a charging station of its own. According to Reuters, the company is currently in talks with other corporations that manufacture electric vehicle charging stations, as well as hiring engineers with relevant experience. If Apple cars do indeed turn out to be exclusively electric, easy access to charging stations would play a major role in deciding their future.
The real icing on the cake, however, would be Apple’s incorporation of its augmented reality (AR) research into Project Titan. It can either be built on top of the existing CarPlay system, or as an additional in-built feature.
Augmented reality is the next big thing after virtual reality. While virtual reality places users in completely three-dimensional environments, augmented reality places virtual elements over the real world, thus allowing physical and digital objects to interact in real time.
As of late, the tech giant has been investing heavily in AR and has admitted a deep interest in the same technology, as confirmed by Tim Cook in an interview.
KGI security analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who is widely known for his ability to predict Apple’s next move, says AR will premiere as part of the iPhone’s operating system before quickly making its way to the iPad, Macs, Apple Watch, Apple TV — and, eventually, on to their automated driving systems.
In short, Apple is likely to leverage its tech experience with infotainment and connectivity in order to develop an electric car that successfully utilizes these features.
Apple stock prognosticators and technology experts speculate that the internal objectives for an Apple Car would either radically improve or eliminate the inefficiencies that exist in the U.S. automotive market today.
However, the existence of Project Titan is still uncertain. Analysts believe that there is only a 50 to 60 percent chance that an Apple electric car will ever be released.
Deepa is a writer for Poplar Network.