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Apple Car could be ready by 2025 — with no steering wheel or pedals

Apple logo hanging off Apple Store
(Image credit: R Classen/Shutterstock)
  • The Apple Car could launch as soon as 2025, though some Apple insiders are skeptical.
  • With a focus on fully autonomous  "hands-off driving," there will reportedly be no steering wheel or pedals in the Apple Car. 
  • Apple could use its self-driving car as a form of ride-hailing service, but it might decide to sell directly to consumers. 
  • The chip that powers the self-driving system is set to be the most advanced Apple silicon ever, with a lot of AI smarts. 
  • Apple is looking for test and software engineers, and has hired former Tesla software self-driving software director CJ Moore. 

The Apple Car is one of the most enduring rumor products swirling around the Cupertino company, but according to a new report it looks like the vehicle's development is finally speed up. 

Bloomberg's Mark Gurman reports that sources familiar with the work surrounding the Apple Car are claiming the company is focusing on making a fully autonomous car and is looking to accelerate its development.   

Apparently, Apple has been working on a self-driving car for the last seven years but has hit various operational and development challenges. That tracks with the rumors and tidbits of information that have slipped out over that time. 

But what reportedly started as two simultaneous projects — one looking at limited autonomous driving capabilities focused on steering and acceleration, and another targeting full self-driving capabilities — has merged into a single road for the Apple Car. 

Now Apple will reportedly focus on making a car that aims to drive itself without any human interactions. And this honing of focus is being headed up by Apple Watch software executive Kevin Lynch. 

Don’t expect to see the Apple Car anytime soon as Apple will need to test its self-driving car systems thoroughly before the company starts getting a consumer-ready product in place. 2025 has previously been touted as a potential launch year, but Gurman reported that Apple would likely delay the review if the Apple Car fails to reach the standards Cupertino’s engineers expect. 

Those familiar with “Project Titan,” the codename supposedly for the Apple Car, told Gurman that hitting a 2025 reveal is rather ambitious and are skeptical that Apple will make it. 

Apple Car chip: The most powerful Apple silicon

Apple Car concept

(Image credit: YouTube/AutoEvolution)

Apple has already been testing self-driving systems using a fleet of Lexus SUVs. But the company will reportedly retrofit these with new technology that’ll be put to the test, such as a new processor design and updated sensors. This testing has reportedly hit a prominent milestone for the underlying car system. So Apple could be further down the road to actually creating an Apple Car as a complete product.

According to Gurman’s sources, the Apple Car chip is the most advanced component the company has ever made and is mostly formed of neural processors to power the artificial intelligence algorithms and tech needed for a car to drive itself. But all this processing requires power and thus an advanced cooling system to keep it from overheating.

Another interesting point from Gurman's report is that the Apple Car will supposedly be designed around “hands-off driving,” with a focus on interior design, the infotainment system and integration with Apple’s current services and devices.

This take on hands-off driving could even see the “ideal” Apple Car come with no steering wheel or any pedals. But for safety and legal purposes some form of emergency steering wheel or control could be provided.

Apple Car: Seeking safety

An photo of Apple CarPly in use

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Speaking of which, safety will be a big concern for the development of a fully autonomous car, so Apple is reportedly hiring engineers to test and develop the safety functions of its driving system. Interestingly, that’s apparently involved the hiring of CJ Moore, formerly Tesla's self-driving software director.

Apple is also apparently looking for software engineers to develop “experiences for human interaction with autonomous technology,” which would suggest the company is leaning heavily into car interface development.

No steering wheel and full autonomous driving may be a strange leap for drivers to understand. But it could also mean the Apple Car is less of a machine you own and more of a service, whereby you summon such an Apple Car much like you would an Uber or other form of ride-hailing service. The difference is that this car would be flush with Apple services that are potentially limited to existing Apple users. 

This is speculation on our part. But Gurman’s report does mention that Apple has debated several business models for the car, including ride-hailing services, though it's more likely to focus on selling cars to individual customers.

Apple Car: The road ahead

Apple Car concept design

(Image credit: Leasefetcher)

As for running the car itself, Gurman reported that a combined charging system could be used for what's set to be an all-electric car. That would allow the Apple Car to tap into a wide network of EV chargers across the world. 

There was no word on what kind of performance to expect from the car. But as it’s not likely to be a performance-orientated vehicle, we suspect the Apple Car will prioritize passenger comfort over 0 to 60 times or cornering capabilities.

In short, this Bloomberg report serves up a lot of compelling information that an Apple Car is truly in development and that it’s far from the early stages of creation. However, making cars isn't easy, even for a trillion-dollar tech giant. So time will tell if we do indeed see an Apple Car in this half of the decade.

Whatever Apple’s plans are, we hope it makes a rather attractive EV, perhaps in keeping with the slick industrial design of the MacBook Pro 2021 or iPhone 13, rather than the ugly car seen in some concept renders.

Roland Moore-Colyer

Roland Moore-Colyer is U.K. Editor at Tom’s Guide with a focus on news, features and opinion articles. He often writes about gaming, phones, laptops and other bits of hardware; he’s also got an interest in cars. When not at his desk Roland can be found wandering around London, often with a look of curiosity on his face.