Earlier this week, Reuters reported that Apple is targeting 2024 for production of its long-rumored electric vehicle with "next level" battery technology, but Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes that a launch is unlikely until 2025-2027 at the earliest.
In a research note today, obtained by MacRumors, Kuo said that Apple Car specifications have yet to be finalized, adding that he would not be surprised if the vehicle's launch timeframe is pushed out even farther to 2028 or later:
We predicted in a previous report that Apple will launch Apple Car in 2023–2025 […] However, our latest survey indicates that the current development schedule of Apple Car is not clear, and if development starts this year and everything goes well, it will be launched in 2025–2027 at the earliest. Due to changes in the EV/self-driving market and Apple's high-quality standards, we would not be surprised if Apple Car's launch schedule is postponed to 2028 or later.
Kuo said the market is "overly bullish" about the Apple Car's launch schedule, and he has advised investors to avoid buying Apple Car-related stocks at this time.
While he does not believe that the Apple Car has no chance of success, Kuo said there is uncertainty about how competitive Apple would be in the EV/self-driving vehicle market due to the company lagging behind in deep learning/artificial intelligence:
The market has high expectations for Apple Car. Still, we remind investors that although Apple has a variety of competitive advantages, it is not always successful in new
business. For example, Apple failed to enter the smart speaker market. The demand for HomePod and HomePod mini were lower than expected, and the development of new smart speaker models had been temporarily suspended. The competition in the EV/self-driving car market is fiercer than that for smart speakers, so we think it's perilous to jump to the conclusion that Apple Car will succeed.
If Apple Car wants to succeed in the future, the key success factor is big data/AI, not hardware. One of our biggest concerns about Apple Car is that when Apple Car is launched, the current self-driving car brands will have accumulated at least five years of big data and be conducive to deep learning/AI. How does Apple, a latecomer, overcome this lagging gap?
Reuters claimed that Apple's self-driving vehicle will feature a unique "monocell" battery design that "frees up space inside the battery pack by eliminating pouches and modules that hold battery materials," potentially resulting in longer range per charge.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently reacted to the Apple Car rumors on Twitter, claiming that a "monocell" battery is "electrochemically impossible." Musk also claimed that "during the darkest days" of Model 3 production, he reached out to Apple CEO Tim Cook to discuss the possibility of Apple acquiring Tesla for a fraction of its current value, but Cook apparently declined the meeting.
All in all, it sounds like the Apple Car remains a distant reality.