Apple Cars, the ultimate rival of China’s new cars

Apple Cars, the ultimate rival of China's new cars

In 2014, Apple’s “Project Titan” officially set sail.

In its heyday, Apple had more than 1,000 experts and engineers involved in the secret research and development of new electric vehicles.

Unfortunately, the first year of sailing became the best day for Apple to build a car.

Later, Apple’s road to car building was very unsuccessful. In 2016, there were even rumors that Apple would shelve its car building plan.

A series of recent news shows that Apple is getting back on track: Apple is developing a self-driving car for consumers.

The ups and downs of Apple’s car manufacturing for so many years have ushered in multiple leadership reshuffles, and hundreds of employees have been fired.

After Bob Mansfield retires in 2020, Apple ushered in another helmsman-John Giannandrea, Apple’s head of AI and machine learning.

In December last year, Apple’s enthusiasm for car-making reignited, and it plans to launch a new car in the next 3 to 6 years.

Well-known Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes that Apple Car will become Apple’s “next star product.”

Li Bin, CEO of NIO, even said: Apple is the ultimate rival of NIO.

Apple car

In the past few years, Apple Car has made many detours.

At first we heard that Apple was going to build a complete car, but the follow-up Titan plan was troublesome, and then Apple switched to the autopilot system.

In 2019 and 2020, there are new rumors that Apple has not given up on it and will make a comeback and continue to build its own-brand cars.

At the end of 2020, a number of revelations confirmed the news again. Apple did not give up its plans to build cars, and plans to attract car companies to help out.

Apple, which is good at dealing with the supply chain, has begun to step up its expansion of its territory. According to the news, Apple has no details on all aspects of vehicle engineering and manufacturing.

However, Apple’s confidentiality work is still tight, and no one can figure out whether Apple is going to be a complete vehicle, a technology platform, or a travel service.

For example, Guo Mingchi revealed that the first Apple Car model was built on Hyundai’s E-GMP pure electric platform. In terms of positioning, it is a “high-end model” for consumers.

According to CNBC reports, the first Apple Car will have fully automatic driving capabilities. However, this car is not a passenger car, but the main unmanned delivery or Robotaxi.

Since 2017, Apple has rented a lot of 2015 Lexus RX450s from Hertz and began testing self-driving cars on California highways.

The frequency of these “fully equipped” Apple self-driving test vehicles at Apple headquarters in Cupertino has also increased year by year.

In addition to the modified RX450, Apple also launched a self-driving car service-PAIL (Palo Alto to Infinite Loop) to solve the commuting problem among employees.

These vehicles will be responsible for the commuting of Apple employees between offices in Silicon Valley.

In the PAIL project, Apple cooperated with Volkswagen, which provides T6 commercial vehicles, equipped with Apple’s self-developed autonomous driving software.

In terms of sensors, Apple also has a layout.

It is rumored that Apple has talked about four lidar suppliers in order to make lidar sensors smaller, cheaper and easier to mass produce.

Obviously, as always, Apple wants to choose a revolutionary lidar for Apple Car.

Apple will also design the most core autonomous driving chip. EETimes analyst pointed out that this self-developed chip is named C1 and is based on the A12 chip.

In terms of batteries, Apple is also trying to make breakthroughs in design to fundamentally reduce battery costs and improve vehicle battery life.

For example, Apple is creating a new type of battery with a “single” design. The volume of a single battery cell will be enlarged, but the module containing the battery material will be removed to free up space in the battery pack and plug more active materials.

Obviously, this technology is Apple’s “One More Thing” in the battery field.

In terms of autonomous driving software, Apple has also established multiple teams.

A Canadian team (more than 20 people) incorporated from BlackBerry QNX is responsible for developing the basic operating system.

The other team is responsible for building a series of software on this system, such as head-up display and autonomous driving algorithms.

All in all, Apple Car will become a new model of Apple’s “vertical integration of software, hardware and services.”

Of course, to actually build the car, Apple also needs to find a series of supply chain partners.

Who will ride Apple’s chariot?

At the beginning of this year, rumors about Apple making cars went viral.

According to the news, Apple has chosen Hyundai-Kia Group for car manufacturing. Its component supplier Hyundai Mobis will be responsible for the design and mass production of some parts of Apple Car, while Kia will provide a vehicle manufacturing line in the United States. .

It is reported that although the executives of Hyundai-Kia Group have some differences on the prospects of cooperation with Apple, it is hard to say that they will not be moved by Apple’s US$3.6 billion investment.

Apple chose Hyundai-Kia Group because the cooperation allows Apple to directly complete its car-making ambitions. At the same time, Hyundai-Kia is also willing to hand over the integration of software and hardware to Apple, rather than just helping Apple build an empty shell without a “soul”.

Guo Mingchi pointed out that Apple’s first model will use the Hyundai E-GMP pure electric platform, with dual-motor drive, five-link rear suspension, and integrated drive shaft. The battery has a range of up to 500 kilometers and can be fully charged with 80% of electricity in 18 minutes. .

Apple also specially prepared a high-performance version, which has a 0-96 km/h acceleration score of less than 3.5 seconds and a top speed of 257 km/h.

In subsequent models or specific markets, Apple may also cooperate with GM or PSA to build cars, and “deep cooperation” with traditional manufacturers can greatly shorten the Apple Car development cycle.

Although the rumors were eloquent, but then came another shocking reversal: Apple suspended negotiations with Hyundai-Kia.

For Apple, who likes to keep it secret, Apple is dissatisfied with Hyundai Motor’s early announcement of the deal.

After the cooperation changed, Hyundai-Kia also jumped out and said: It is true that they did not discuss cooperation with Apple on the development of self-driving electric vehicles.

Obviously, the two sides have fallen apart.

At the moment, no one knows whether Apple and Hyundai-Kia will return to the negotiating table, but some South Korean media believe that the cooperation between the two parties will eventually come true, and Apple is still very optimistic about Kia.

There is also news that Apple has also contacted Nissan to discuss cooperation matters.

But overall the contact was not deep, and the two sides still had differences on the Apple Car specifications, so the cooperation intention came to an abrupt end before it reached the top.

On the one hand, Nissan is unwilling to be pushed around by Apple, abandoning the existing car manufacturing route and becoming its hardware production line.

On the other hand, Apple is unwilling to give up control over vehicle design and software opening.

The Bloomberg news shows that Apple has been slow to decide on a partner, mainly because the other party is worried that Apple’s aura will damage its own brand.

Therefore, in the future, Apple may also find its old friend-Foxconn to cooperate.

Foxconn is the main contract manufacturer of Apple products such as the iPhone.

Recently, Fu Zhikang also released its own pure electricity and software platform to help auto companies complete the landing of new cars as soon as possible.

In addition, Magna may also catch the Apple chariot.

Of course, Apple may also build its own factory for vehicle production.

According to the “Korea Times” report, the cooperation between Apple and LG Magna e-Powertrain was almost signed.

LG Magna e-Powertrain is a joint venture between LG Electronics and Magna announced in December last year that they would invest US$1 billion.

The company will produce electric motors, inverters, on-board chargers and electronic drive systems in factories in Incheon, South Korea and Nanjing, China.

It is reported that Apple likes the small and beautiful production model of LG Magna e-Powertrain.

From this point, it can be seen that Apple’s first-generation electric cars are mainly to verify the market value of the car, and its main goal is not to sell after mass production.

If Apple can really reach a cooperation with LG Magna e-Powertrain as soon as possible, the two parties will jointly formulate the mass production details of Apple Car, and the start of the prototype car in 2024 will no longer be a problem.

Of course, an old-fashioned apple will not hang on a tree.

In June of this year, news showed that Apple is in preliminary contact with two Chinese battery suppliers. In the future, CATL and BYD may become Apple Car battery suppliers.

A brief history of Apple cars

Apple’s interest in building cars can even be traced back to before the iPhone. Steve Jobs considered developing Apple Car at that time, and he even visited the light car manufacturer V-Vehicle.

However, in 2008, Apple decided to give up building cars for the time being and concentrate on making iPhones.

After pushing the iPhone to the top, Apple needs to find new profit growth points, and at this time the car-making project is again on the stage.

In 2015, rumors about Apple Car began to gradually appear in the newspapers.

In February 2015, a mysterious minivan leased by Apple began to wander around Northern California.

With this car mounted on the camera matrix, the outside world began to speculate whether Apple was going to copy Google Street View.

Of course, some people speculate that Apple wants to engage in autonomous driving.

Later, Apple officially refuted the rumors that this car was related to its own map project.

Since then, no matter what abacus Apple made at the time, their fate with the car could not be solved.

A few days after Apple’s mysterious minivan was exposed, another Apple internal email was exposed.

The email shows that some Tesla employees have chosen to participate in Apple’s exciting car-building project.

This email also stirred up waves with one stone, and many media began to dig deeper into Apple’s mysterious car-building plan.

By mid-February, the “Financial Times” published an article stating that Apple was recruiting car and vehicle design experts to enter the “secret laboratory”, and the first to be exposed was former Mercedes-Benz R&D expert Johann Jungwirth.

Obviously, Apple is determined to come to the car market to share the cake.

Limited to the background of the time, the Financial Times and other media initially believed that Apple was going to build a new software platform based on CarPlay. After all, it was a fantasy for a consumer electronics company to build a car.

But not long after, the “Wall Street Journal” released heavy news: Apple is indeed developing electric cars, and the project was established in 2014.

“The Wall Street Journal” news shows that Apple has built a team of hundreds of people, is designing a small truck-shaped electric car, and the code name of this project is called “Project Titan.”

In addition, Tim Cook also gave a sufficient budget, the team can have up to 1,000 employees.

In addition, Apple also visited Magna to discuss future foundry matters.

Apple was in the limelight at the time: it explored a variety of trendy technologies, including silent electric doors, car interiors without steering wheels or accelerator pedals, AR displays, improved Lidar (largely reduced in size), and spherical wheels.

But on the whole, Apple does not have a clear vision for the car, and executives even have differences on major issues such as whether the car should be fully automated or semi-autonomous, leading to project delays and internal disputes.

Due to constant internal disputes, in January 2016, Steve Zadesky, the head of the Titan Project, chose to leave, and everyone did not even know who would take over.

It wasn’t until July that former Apple executive Bob Mansfield filled the power vacuum.

After Mansfield took over, Apple’s strategy has undergone a major shift, and autonomous driving has become the top priority.

In August and September of the same year, after a round of internal “restarts”, Titan plans to start the first round of layoffs.

Initially, there was news that Apple was walking on two legs with autonomous driving and car building, but soon there was news that Apple had actually stopped the car building project.

After that, Apple got the California Transportation Authority test license, and the Lexus test car hit the road.

Between offices in Silicon Valley, Apple also operates a self-driving shuttle service in conjunction with Volkswagen.

In 2018, Apple’s car-making wind started again.

Guo Mingchi revealed that Apple is building the Apple Car, which will come out in 2023-2025.

At the beginning of 2019, Apple’s self-driving team laid off another 200 people.

With such a major setback, Apple still believes that it has a lot of opportunities in the autonomous driving system, and its own team will still work in many key areas.

From an internal point of view, many employees said that the layoffs were not an accident, but everyone was willing to regroup under the leadership of the new Boss Doug Field (who worked with Mansfield).

As for the impact of this change on Apple’s autonomous driving, the outside world cannot assess.

In 2020, Mansfield officially retired and John Giannandrea began to take over the entire project.

In mid-2019, Apple also bought, a startup company for autonomous driving, for the autonomous driving talents in the team.

At the beginning of 2020, Apple also had contact with Canoo, but ultimately failed to reach a cooperation.

Canoo can arouse Apple’s interest because the company has developed a mass-produced modular electric vehicle platform.

Canoo also hopes to get Apple’s investment, but negotiations have deteriorated.

In the end, Canoo chose to merge with Hennessy Capital Acquisition to raise funds to promote mass production of vehicles.

Which talents does Apple recruit for making cars?

When the car-building project was approved, Apple formed a luxury team of about 200 people. At that time, Apple’s ultimate goal was to expand the team to 1,000 people.

In 2015, Apple officially started the journey of digging people.

In addition to the big players in the traditional automotive industry (from Tesla, Ford and GM, etc.), experts in battery technology and autonomous driving systems (from A123 Systems, MIT Motorsports, Ogin, Autoliv, Concept Systems and General Dynamics, etc.) Apple also No one refuses to come.

What’s interesting is that even when it is rumored that Apple has given up building cars and turned to the autopilot system, it has not stopped digging people.

From Tesla, Apple dug up:

  • David Nelson (former head of mechanical engineering)
  • John Ireland (former powertrain senior test engineer)
  • Lauren Ciminera (former head of human resources)
  • Chris Porritt (former vice president)

Porritt has been immersed in the European automotive industry for decades and worked for Land Rover and Aston Martin before joining Tesla.

In April 2016, Tesla CNC programming expert David Masiukiewicz joined Apple. His purpose is probably to build an Apple Car prototype.

In A123 Systems, Apple also hired 5 experts, and even for digging corners, Apple is now in a lawsuit with A123 Systems.

You know, Apple directly poached A123 Systems CTO Mujeeb Ijaz.

For Ford, Apple also digs a lot of corners, such as Todd Gray and Aindrea Campbell, engineers who specialize in body structure.

In addition, Samsung’s battery experts are not letting go.

In mid-2015, Apple invited Doug Betts, senior vice president of full-time product service and quality for Chrysler Group.

After this person joined, Apple’s Apple Car operation team was greatly enhanced.

In the competition for talent, Apple has never been soft, and even poaching has led to the closure of the startup Mission Motors.

In the field of autonomous driving, Apple’s recruitment is even more vigorous.

Apple hired Tesla’s autopilot firmware expert Jamie Carlson, autopilot researcher Paul Furgale, NVIDIA deep learning expert Jonathan Cohen, and Waymo system engineering director Jaime Waydo.

In addition, there are Volkswagen engineer Megan McClain, Carnegie Mellon researcher Vinay Palakkode, Ford networking and autonomous vehicle engineer Sanjai Massey, Bosch assisted driving system engineer Stefan Weber and Delphi autonomous driving research expert Lech Szumilas, etc.

In the summer of 2016, Apple brought in Dan Dodge, the BlackBerry in-vehicle software department and QNX system development director, to take the lead for the Apple Car autopilot system development team.

Since the start of the project, Apple has recruited more than 20 employees from BlackBerry.

In the Apple Car team, there is even Mark Rober responsible for VR technology.

His job is to enhance the passenger entertainment experience and reduce the incidence of motion sickness during entertainment in the car.

In 2018, Apple recalled veteran Doug Field (in charge of Mac hardware engineering).

After leaving Apple in 2013, Field moved to Tesla and personally supervised the completion of the Model 3 mass production ramp.

Field returning to Apple is in charge of assisting Bob Mansfield. It is clear that Apple’s car building ambitions have not been extinguished.

At the end of 2018, Apple welcomed the former Tesla and Microsoft HoloLens designer Andrew Kim. His joining is highly related to Apple’s AR glasses and car building plans.

In addition, Steve MacManus, a Tesla vehicle interior and exterior designer, also joined Apple.

In 2019, former Tesla vice president Michael Schwekutsch joined Apple. He is an expert in motors and transmissions.

In 2020, Apple saw BMW vehicle engineer Jonathan Sive (who also worked for Tesla and Waymo) and Stuart Bowers (another Tesla VP specializing in autonomous driving systems).

At the end of the year, Apple extended an olive branch to Porsche executive Manfred Harrer.

Harrer is recognized as one of the best engineers in the Volkswagen Group, and Cayenne is his masterpiece.

In June of this year, Apple also hired Ulrich Kranz, a former BMW executive and CEO of Canoo, an American electric car startup. In the BMW era, the i3 and i8 models were his own.

Apple’s secret headquarters

Existing rumors show that Apple has prepared a secret headquarters for the development of Apple Car in the Bay Area.

It is speculated that the headquarters is located in Sunnyvale, California, just a few minutes’ drive from Apple’s spacecraft headquarters.

Right now, Apple does rent a few buildings as offices in Sunnyvale, but there is also news that the real body of the Apple Car headquarters is actually in a leather company called SixtyEight Research.

SixtyEight Research is a market research company, but it has obtained permission from the government to build an “auto factory” and a “repair garage.”

Although the accuracy of the Apple Car’s secret headquarters in Sunnyvale will not be confirmed for a while, based on existing information, the secret headquarters that gave birth to Apple Car is definitely not in the Apple spacecraft headquarters.

In addition to the leased office buildings, Apple has also won a lot of properties in Sunnyvale, including a filling plant in the original Pepsi-Cola.

According to reports, there are several mysterious buildings with internal codes, such as Zeus, Rhea and Athena, and these names are all “Titans” in Greek mythology.

In addition to California, there are also rumors that Apple has a secret vehicle research and development laboratory in Berlin. The laboratory has gathered 15-20 German automakers who are unique in engineering, software, hardware and sales.

At the end of 2018, Apple also rented a large manufacturing plant in Milpitas, California.

We do not yet know what Apple is going to do, but this factory will be closely linked to Apple’s car-making plan in the future.

Judging from Apple’s self-driving white paper, the first priority of “Project Titan” is safety.

Therefore, vehicles to be deployed in the future will have to undergo “rigorous verification tests” in a simulation and a closed proving ground, and test drivers who operate the vehicles must complete multiple trainings.

Apple has also established safety regulations that require drivers to take over when necessary, and require the car to hand over control to the driver when it encounters an unmanageable situation.

The last question is, when will Apple cars come out?

Reuters believes that Apple Car will start mass production in 2024.

Guo Mingchi believes that Apple will not be ready until at least 2025-2027, and the entire progress may even be delayed to 2028 or later.

Bloomberg pointed out that Apple Car is still in the early stages of research and development, or will not be officially released until 2026-2028.

It now appears that there is still a long time before the advent of Apple Car.

In the near future, there will definitely be more and more details about Apple’s car making.

This article is from the WeChat public account: Heart of the Car (ID: Auto-Bit) , author: Ye Fang

Posted by:CoinYuppie,Reprinted with attribution to:
Coinyuppie is an open information publishing platform, all information provided is not related to the views and positions of coinyuppie, and does not constitute any investment and financial advice. Users are expected to carefully screen and prevent risks.

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