American multinational tech company, Apple Inc., is in the early stages of developing an autonomous electric vehicle. According to sources familiar with the developments, this project will take at least five years. The company, founded in 1976 as a computer company, is headquartered in Cupertino, California. It has incorporated Tesla and other hardware engineers’ former employees to develop drive systems, car interiors, and car body prototypes. These parts will be combined to create a vehicle. This is an ardent goal by Apple compared to projects in the previous years. In the past, Apple’s projects have been directed towards creating a self-driving system.
According to the company’s engineers working on the project, Apple could develop a full vehicle in about five to seven years if plans proceed as expected. However, due to Covid-19, employees have been working from home, which has slowed down the project. Very few are working from the offices, and the few spend less time there. The company’s goal is to develop a self-driven vehicle, which requires little or no engagement by the user. This will come at a price. However, it will be worth it, making Apple a major competitor to Tesla, Lucid Motors, Daimler AG’s Mercedes Benz, and Chevrolet.
To achieve this, the company has developed its unique software, sensor hardware, and chip technology. Like most Apple products, this autonomous vehicle may be manufactured by another motor company. This is because Apple rarely makes its products. This is not Apple’s first attempt at creating vehicles. In 2016, the company tapped Canada’s motor manufacturer Magna International to help build an Apple speed car. These talks did not yield a solid plan since Apple’s plan became unclear. Apple aspires to start manufacturing an electric vehicle by 2024.
After the first attempt failed, Apple laid off hundreds of workers, only sparing hardware engineers with car components expertise. This was in the period between 2016 to 2019. Apple went ahead and hired Steve MacManus, a former engineering vice president at Tesla. MacManus has been leading the development group since 2019. Together with his team, they work on car interiors, designs, car-testing, and vehicle production. MacManus answers his former colleague at Tesla, Doug Field, who now heads the Apple car project. In this project, Apple brought together former employees of companies such as Tesla, BMW AG, and Waymo. This is in a bid to make the most sophisticated electric car. Among them is Jonathan Sive, a vehicle engineer from BMW AG. Sive has also worked with Waymo and Tesla. Others include Michael Schwekutsch and Stuart Bowers, who both worked with Tesla.