Apple car rumours have once again been revved up following Kara Swisher’s interview with Apple CEO Tim Cook for The New York Times’ “Sway” podcast. Although his comments were vague, Cook dropped more than enough hints to get people talking about the possibility of the tech giant finally muscling into Tesla territory with their own autonomous vehicle.
On the podcast, released earlier this week, Cook spoke about Drive.ai, which Apple purchased in 2019 just days before the self-driving start-up was to fold, as well as hinting at Apple’s future plans in the space.
“The autonomy itself is a core technology, in my view,” says Cook.
“If you sort of step back, the car, in a lot of ways, is a robot. An autonomous car is a robot. And so there are lots of things you can do with autonomy. And we’ll see what Apple does.”
That quote alone indicates Cook’s confidence in Apple dropping a self-driving car sometime in the near future. Although he also admits that he’s intentionally going to be “coy” on any official plans.
“We investigate so many things internally. Many of them never see the light of day. I’m not saying that one will not.”
While Cook declined to comment on specifics when asked by Swisher, the podcast has already added to the considerable writing on the wall.
Apple has long been expected to enter the self-driving car space and has already made a number of moves indicating substantial progress. In addition to purchasing Drive.ai, sources recently told Reuters that Apple was developing its own self-driving car technology and aimed to finalise a vehicle featuring its advanced battery technology by 2024.
An autonomous vehicle would obviously position Apple directly against Elon Musk’s Tesla. We already know that Doug Field, Tesla’s former senior vice president of engineering, was hired by Apple back in 2018 and is heading the mysterious ‘Project Titan’. Plus, Apple has also fielded other former Tesla staff, including former Tesla vice president of engineering Michael Schwekutsch, who is currently serving as the senior director of engineering for the Special Projects Group at Apple.
Cook also takes some time to comment on Elon Musk and Tesla during the podcast, addressing Musk’s recent tweets accusing the Apple CEO of refusing a meeting to discuss Apple acquiring Tesla during the Model 3’s “darkest days”.
“You know, I’ve never spoken to Elon, although I have a great admiration and respect for the company he’s built. I think Tesla has done an unbelievable job of not only establishing the lead but keeping the lead for such a long period of time in the EV space. So I have a great appreciation for them.”
Earlier this year, CNBC reported that Apple was close to inking a deal with Hyundai-Kia to build an Apple-branded self-driving car at the Kira assembly plant in West Point, Georgia. The deal has since fallen through.
It’s possible we could find out more details about a possible self-driving car from Apple as early as June of this year given Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference, which will be held entirely online, is scheduled to run from June 7 and June 11. Whether any announcements add to the ongoing Apple Car rumours remains to be seen.