Apple Car reportedly delayed until 2026 — but there's some good news

tim cook apple wwdc 2022
(Image credit: Future)

Mark your calendars. Again. Apple is apparently pushing back the launch of the Apple Car another year to 2026. And instead of costing $120,000 or more, the vehicle will reportedly be priced under $100,000.

This is recording to a new report by Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, who says that Apple no longer plans to launch a fully autonomous vehicle. So, yes, the Apple Car will likely have a steering wheel and pedals, despite an initial self-driving vision of a vehicle so smart that passengers could face each other inside the cabin. 

The Apple Car will reportedly have self-driving capabilities, like many of the best electric cars, but only on highways. As Gurman describes it, "Apple currently plans to develop a vehicle that lets drivers conduct other tasks — say, watch a movie or play a game — on a freeway and be alerted with ample time to switch over to manual control if they reach city streets or encounter inclement weather."

Frankly, even that level of autonomy (Level 5) sounds frightening, and introduces a whole host of legal ramifications should an Apple Car get in an accident while driving itself. This feature would apparently launch in North America first and then expand to other areas as it improves. 

Here's some other key highlights from the Bloomberg Apple Car report: 

Apple Car cheat sheet

  • Apple Car release date: The Apple Car is now tipped for a 2026 release, which is one year later than previously predicted. 
  • Not full self-driving: While the Apple Car will reportedly offer a self-driving mode, it looks like it will only be available on highways, and there will be a steering wheel and pedals. 
  • Price: "Apple had expected each car to sell for more than $120,000, but the company is now aiming to offer the vehicle to consumers for less than $100,000." This would be in the same range as the Tesla Model S and Mercedes EQS.  
  • The super computer: There's a powerful onboard computer system, codenamed Denali, that's as powerful as "four of Apple's highest-end Mac chips combined."
  • Apple Car vs Tesla: Apple hopes to stand out from Tesla by leveraging more than just onboard cameras. It would also rely on lidar and radar sensors.
  • Design not settled: The vehicle is said to be in the pre-prototype stage. Apple was looking at the Canoo Lifestyle Vehicle for inspiration where the passengers face each other. That's now out the window. 

What's next for Apple Car?

According to the report, Canoo's ex-CEO Ulrich Kranz is spearheading the design of the car while the software is being handled by ex-Tesla manager Stuart Bowers. The Apple car team is apparently made up of 1,000 employees and is spread around the world. 

Interestingly, Apple apparently is developing a "Rocket Score" that grades the Apple Car's autonomous driving system. But the founder of that group left Apple earlier this year after openly disagreeing with Apple's work-from-home push.

At this point it looks like we could see a foldable iPhone Flip before we see the Apple Car. And this isn't the only project facing delays. Just this week we learned that the rumored Apple VR/AR headset's release date could be pushed back to late 2023

Inventing the future takes time, folks. 

Mark Spoonauer

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.