Apple Car release date reportedly pushed back — and it doesn't sound like the self-driving car of the future

Aston Martin Apple CarPlay interface for 2024
(Image credit: Aston Martin/Apple)

Despite a recent patent detailing how Apple's first car could take an innovative approach to passenger safety, a new report says Apple Car development is facing setbacks that will push the electric vehicle's release date back two years later than previously expected.

According to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, the scheduled launch of Apple's anticipated EV has slipped from 2026 to 2028. The project, which has reportedly been in the works since 2014, was aiming to deliver advanced self-driving features to a sleek electric car. But now it seems the company's ambitions are scaled back.

Gurman said the EV system will be classified as a Level 2+ system with lane centering and adaptive cruise control features, aligning with what Tesla has on the market. Apple originally intended to debut a Level 5 or Level 4 car with true autonomous driving as its secret weapon of sorts, meaning the car could drive pretty much anywhere under any conditions on its own.

Dubbed the "Apple Car" for the time being, such an EV would be a milestone for the company. We've seen from Apple Vision Pro that the engineers in Cupertino aren't worried about pushing product boundaries, but a car is an entirely new frontier. 

Well, mostly new — Apple CarPlay has become quite a successful smart interface for existing cars. So we know that the software experience shouldn't be as much of a challenge for Apple as building a functional car that's fun and safe to drive. I think it's important to add an emphasis on the 'safe' part.

This new intel on Apple scaling back its car plans suggests the first-generation Apple Car might not be the 'car of the future' so much as an EV made by Apple. How Apple now plans to compete with the large number of EVs on the market remains to be seen, but we do know that there's a Ford veteran on the team who specializes in safety engineering. Former Porsche and Lamborghini folks are apparently part of the project, too.

Apple will likely play up the esteemed resumes of the Apple Car development team when bringing the EV to market. Since we know it won't be cheap (Gurman places it in the $100,000 range) the company needs to prove the car's legitimacy beyond the software and 'Apple ecosystem' experience. 

Kate Kozuch

Kate Kozuch is the managing editor of social and video at Tom’s Guide. She covers smartwatches, TVs and audio devices, too. Kate appears on Fox News to talk tech trends and runs the Tom's Guide TikTok account, which you should be following. When she’s not filming tech videos, you can find her taking up a new sport, mastering the NYT Crossword or channeling her inner celebrity chef.