Apple Car Autonomous Driving Scaled Down, Launch Planned for 2028

Apple has pivoted to simpler, less ambitious design for the Apple Car in order to actually bring the vehicle to market, reports Bloomberg. Apple initially wanted a driverless car with full autonomous capabilities, but it is now developing an electric vehicle with fewer features.

After abandoning the driverless plans, Apple aimed for a car with Level 4 autonomous functionality that would have allowed the car’s system to take over driving in limited circumstances such as on highways, but even that was too ambitious. Apple is said to be focusing on driver-assistance features that are closer to how Tesla vehicles operate, and it will have a Level 2+ system. Level 2 autonomous driving includes steering and brake/acceleration support, but the driver remains in control of the car and must pay attention on the road.

Despite the scaling back of the project, Apple’s launch timeline for the ‌Apple Car‌ has been adjusted. Apple wanted to introduce the car sometime around 2026, but Apple is now targeting a 2028 release at the earliest. According to Bloomberg, this marks a “pivotal moment” for the ‌Apple Car‌. If the company is not able to deliver an electric vehicle with this feature set, executives may “seriously reconsider the project’s existence.”

Since the ‌Apple Car‌ was unveiled in 2014, the project has shifted and evolved several times. Rumors have at times suggested that Apple had scrapped a car altogether, focusing instead on an autonomous system, but it appears that Apple is sticking with plans to debut a full Apple-branded vehicle.

The ‌Apple Car‌ project has been riddled with leadership changes and internal strife over the direction of development. Apple Watch chief Kevin Lynch took over the project, and he worked with Tim Cook to adopt a new strategy after pressure from Apple’s board. Apple is now meeting with potential partners in Europe to discuss the new plan.

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