Apple is aiming to produce its first electric car by 2024 and will use its own breakthrough battery technology, according to a media report.
"Apple has progressed enough that it now aims to build a vehicle for consumers," Reuters reported on Tuesday.
“Central to Apple's strategy is a new battery design that could radically reduce the cost of batteries and increase the vehicle's range,” it added.
Apple did not immediately respond to The National's request for comment.
The Cupertino-based iPhone maker is exploring the potential use of cost-effective LFP (lithium iron phosphate) batteries that are fast gaining recognition in the manufacturing industries. LFP batteries are safer to use than other lithium-ion batteries and are less likely to overheat.
It remains unclear who would assemble an Apple-branded car, but the Reuters report said that the company will rely on a third-party manufacturing partner to build the vehicles.
“There is still a chance Apple will decide to reduce the scope of its efforts to an autonomous driving system that would be integrated with a car made by a traditional automaker, rather than the iPhone maker selling an Apple-branded car,” it added.
Apple is aiming to build electric cars for customers’ personal use, competing with the likes of Tesla, Audi and General Motors.
Other tech giants, such as Amazon and Alphabet, are also backing autonomous-electric initiatives but they are more focused on mass transport.
Alphabet's Waymo is operating a commercial self-driving taxi service, whereas Amazon-backed Zoox is working to create an autonomous ride-hailing fleet. Industry analysts said Amazon can also use automated cars to deliver goods to customers.
Apple secretly started its automated and electric vehicles development – Project Titan – in 2014. It has yet to publicly discuss any of its self-driving goals, but nearly 5,000 engineers and scientists were reported to be working on the project as of 2018.
In January last year, Apple reduced the team by around 200 employees, who were moved to other departments within the company. It raised questions over the future of the project but in a statement, Apple indicated that its automotive project was ongoing.
“We have an incredibly talented team working on autonomous systems … some groups are being moved to projects in other parts of the company, where they will support machine learning and other initiatives across all of Apple,” the company said.
In the past couple of years, Apple has hired key executives from Tesla to propel its autonomous and electric vehicle initiatives.
Doug Field, who had worked with Apple between 2011 and 2013 before moving to Tesla, returned to oversee the project in 2018 as vice president of special projects.
Steve MacManus, another Tesla veteran, joined Apple as a senior director in July 2019.
Earlier this month, Bloomberg reported that Apple shifted the leadership of its self-driving car project to John Giannandrea, its senior vice president of machine learning and artificial intelligence strategy.