Noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has confirmed initial reports that Hyundai will be Apple’s key manufacturing partner. Apple might use Hyundai’s latest electric vehicle platform E-GMP, and that gives us a basic idea of the specifications one can expect. While Apple and Hyundai are both yet to confirm the partnership, the most recent report from Kuo has more or less confirmed it. However, according to the report, one can expect Apple to launch the vehicle no earlier than 2025.
The Hyundai E-GMP
Hyundai unveiled the E-GMP, i.e., the Electric Global Modular Platform, last year. It is a vehicular platform built specifically for battery electric vehicles (BEVs). The South Korean company stated that both Hyundai and Kia will use this platform in their upcoming electric vehicles. The upcoming Ioniq 5 will be the first electric vehicle to use this platform.
This new chassis is capable of delivering a high level of performance. Hyundai has claimed that the vehicles using E-GMP platform will have a range of around 300 miles (483 km). This is not a very bad figure, considering that Tesla Model 3 can go 263 miles (423 km) to 353 miles (568 km) on one charge, depending on the configuration. Other figures include fast-charging up to 80% in just 18 minutes, accelerating from 0-60 mph (96.5 kph) in 3.5 seconds and a top speed of 160 mph.
These figures are comparable with the Tesla Model 3, one of the most popular electric vehicles right now. And with Apple thinking of using this platform for their first-ever production car, one can only think of the battle – Apple’s first car vs Tesla’s most popular car.
However, one needs to understand that these figures are for the high-performance model of the chassis. With no exterior design known, and no aerodynamics and weight figures yet, these specs will most probably change.
Hyundai’s Reservations about Partnering with Apple
The dealings between Hyundai and Apple have had their own share of friction. Apple has been very secretive about this electric car project, also dubbed as “Titan”. But when Hyundai released a statement that they are in talks with Apple, the Cupertino company wasn’t happy. The company withdrew the statement almost immediately.
Moreover, Apple is adamant about having the production of the Apple car in the United States. Hyundai, on the other hand, has always been reluctant about working with outsiders. They have previously manufactured engines, transmission systems and even their own steel in-house. With a widely spread-out supply chain under its group, they believe in producing indigenous products. There is no doubt about who’s the boss among the South Korean companies.
But Apple is a boss in its own way. The technological giant is looking to manufacture most of the parts themselves, taking the help of Hyundai for some components, and hiring external help for others. And the production has to happen in the United States, according to Apple. They are already miffed about Hyundai releasing the statement about their talks.
Fortunately, there may be a way out of this problem. Kia, which is a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Group, has a production plant in Georgia. The plant is capable of producing up to 400,000 vehicles per year, and it will fulfill Apple’s wish of keeping production in the USA. None of this is confirmed yet.
Apple’s ‘Titan’ Project
The Titan project started in 2014, and after rumors that Apple had shelved it, it is still ongoing. In December last year, Apple was reported to be working with TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company) for producing chips for the car. Earlier, Apple’s plan was to partner up with some automobile company and offer in-car tech. This later turned into a project associated with designing autonomous systems for vehicles.
Apple had entered into a deal with Lexus, using their SUVs for testing its autonomous systems. They made a $1 billion investment in Didi Chuxing in 2016, a ride-hailing service company which dominated 80% of the Chinese market at that time. Uber then merged their Chinese operations with Didi Chuxing, further increasing the value of Apple’s investment. They then purchased Drive.ai in 2019, which is an electric vehicle start-up.
However, if Ming-Chi Kuo’s report is to be believed, we won’t be seeing an Apple vehicle in the next 4 years, at least. In the report, he says:
We predict that Apple will launch the Apple Car in 2025 at the earliest. The new iPhone takes about 18–24 months from initial specification definition to mass production based on experience. Given the longer development time, higher validation requirements, more complicated supply chain management, and very different sales/after-sales service channels for the automobiles, we believe that Apple, which lacks car building experience, is already on a tight schedule if it wants to launch the Apple Car in 2025.
Realistically speaking, if Apple wants to manufacture its own components and take care of their supply chain too, then it will result in more delays. While they are looking at 2024 as the earliest date for launch, Kuo predicts that it could be delayed as much as 2027. Apple is looking to have a concept design ready by 2022, which they can send for beta testing. It will then have an order of 100,000 vehicles by 2024, according to company sources. In any case, we won’t see the Apple car production version anytime soon.