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Apple Car could reimagine the sunroof as we know it

Apple Car concept
(Image credit: Erick Martinez / iDrop News)

Update: Ming-Chi Kuo has some bad news for the Apple Car, claiming that the development team has already been dissolved for some time.

The Apple Car has been in development for several years, according to various rumors and reports, but we’re still no closer to knowing what the thing will actually look like. But a new patent (opens in new tab) may give us an idea of one design feature: a sunroof with variable opacity glass.

Or, in other words, a system that lets the driver adjust how transparent the roof actually is. Something that could be very useful, letting you alter how much light comes in depending on the weather and conditions outside.

What’s more, the patent also details a system that allows the sunroof to open in tandem with the car’s side windows. It’s not quite the same as having a convertible, but it’s probably the next best thing. At the very least, it’s a change from what a lot of modern cars have to offer.

Transparent roofs may be pretty common, especially in the latest electric cars, but that feature has been getting less and less common over the past couple of decades. 

apple car sunroof patent illustration

(Image credit: USPTO/Apple)

Apple isn’t the only company to have features like this, however. Mercedes’ Magic Sky technology also offers a sunroof with variable transparency, though in that case the sunroof is fixed in place; Apple’s does both.

Unfortunately, a patent isn’t any guarantee that a feature will actually make it to market. We have to wait for a product to arrive to see what’s actually going on, and in many cases they never see the light of day. In the case of the Apple Car, everything we know points to us having to wait a few more years before we hear anything.

At this point all we know is that there is an Apple Car, and it will be a battery-powered electric vehicle. Of course, the rumors claim the car will be completely autonomous, with a hands-off experience complete with an infotainment system that can integrate into Apple’s existing suite of services.

Reports have also claimed Apple will use a lithium iron phosphate solution in its batteries, which would make them less prone to overheating, as well as potentially offering a ‘monocell’ design that maximizes battery cell size and could theoretically offer more range.

For now, we have to play the waiting game. Rumors suggest the Apple Car could arrive by 2025, though considering the issues Apple has had with organizing manufacturing, don’t be surprised if we have to wait even longer.

Tom Pritchard
Automotive Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's Automotive Editor, which means he can usually be found knee deep in stats the latest and best electric cars, or checking out some sort of driving gadget. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining that Ikea won’t let him buy the stuff he really needs online.