Apple AAPL is rumored to boost its driverless car initiative with plans to produce self-driving car technology and introduce the consumer vehicle that could include its own breakthrough battery technology by 2024, per a Reuters report.
Apple’s driverless car or Apple Car initiative, Project Titan, has been a subject of intense speculation since 2014 due to the classified nature of the project.
Reportedly, Apple’s 2024 production strategy includes a new monocell battery design aimed at reducing the cost of batteries and increase the range of the vehicle. This battery, LFP — Lithium Iron Phosphate — is less likely to overheat and will hence be safer as against other types of lithium ion batteries.
Moreover, Apple is expected to leverage on its third-party manufacturing partners for elements of the system, including lidar sensors, which help self-driving cars with 360-degree spatial awareness.
The company’s shares have returned 74.7% year to date, outperforming the Computer – Mini computers industry’s rally of 73.7%.
Solid Growth Prospect Drives Competition
Apple’s move is a testament to its progressive stance toward strengthening presence in the booming self-driving vehicles market, which is expected to hit $220.4 billion by 2025, witnessing CAGR of 36.5% between 2020 and 2025, per a Market Data Forecast report.
Also, per a report from Grand View Research, the global self-driving car and truck market is projected to witness a CAGR of 63.1% between 2021 and 2030.
Given this upbeat scenario, Tesla TSLA, Alphabet’s GOOGL Waymo self-driving unit, General Motors, Apple, Amazon AMZN and Baidu are leaving no stone unturned to bolster presence in this promising market.
Alphabet’s aggressive efforts to expand Waymo initiatives are expected to help it in staying ahead of the pack. The latest re-launch of Waymo’s robo-taxi ride-hailing service, with no human attendant in Phoenix, AZ, is a testament to the same.
Additionally, Waymo plans to start the company’s road testing of its driverless fleet in a new hub in Dallas, TX. Moreover, the company’s acquisition of Latent Logic, an AI company that specializes in a form of ML, namely imitation learning, remains noteworthy.
Moreover, in June, Amazon purchased autonomous vehicle company, Zoox for $1 billion. The company is said to have offered $100 million in stock inducements to retain talent at Zoox post-acquisition.
Meanwhile, Baidu is benefiting from the expansion of Apollo Go Robotaxi service, which covers about 700 kilometers across China, and features about 100 pick-up and drop-off stations across several residential as well as business areas.
Further, chipmakers like NVIDIA and Intel are making advances to capitalize on the lucrative opportunities in the AV space.
Apple’s Growing Driverless Car Initiatives to Drive Competition
Apple recently collaborated with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) to develop the self-driving chips, even as it looks to set up factories in the United States.
Meanwhile, Tesla is reportedly working with TSMC on its HW4.0 self-driving chip. This chip is pegged to be ready for mass production by April next year. Last year, Apple hired Michael Schwekutsch, Tesla’s head of electric powertrains, suggesting a probable electric car focus.
Earlier this month, Apple moved its self-driving car unit under the leadership of artificial intelligence (AI) executive John Giannandrea who will oversee the company’s continued work on an autonomous system for an automated car.
In November, Apple’s CarPlay collaborated with ChargePoint, one of the world’s largest electric vehicle (EV) charging networks to bring essential EV charging data inside the vehicle.
The Apple car is expected to be a perfect combination of the iPhone-maker’s hardware, software, and services. The company has become aggressive in testing its cars over the last couple of years.
Last year, the company’s vehicles drove an average of about 118 miles before a human safety driver had to take control. That was up from one mile per disengagement in 2018, according to data from the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
Moreover, Apple’s acquisition of a self-driving shuttle firm, Drive.ai, is in sync with its strong efforts toward bolstering its expertise in neural networks, which plays an important role in developing software for driverless vehicles.
Additionally, the solid database of Drive.ai-related to road conditions, signals and traffic are helping the company in innovating the software for driverless vehicles.
Moreover, this Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) company added a new ChargePoint widget in Today View for iPhone where drivers can find nearby stations or check real-time charging status.
You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
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