Apple to go ‘All-in’ or Abandon Self-driving Cars

Apple has been working on the so-called Apple car for years. The company was originally rumored to be developing a full-fledged car. But after facing numerous hurdles, Apple shifted its focus to develop the autonomous driving system first.

We still don’t know what the final outcome of the Project Titan would be, but it’s not in Apple’s DNA to develop a technology and license it to other companies. So, Apple will either go “all-in” or abandon the autonomous car business within a couple of years.

Robert Cirha of Guggenheim Securities said (via AppleInsider) that Apple’s entire business model is based on “vertically-integrated control.” The company controls both software and hardware of all its products such as the iPhones, iPads, Macs, and Apple Watches.

So, there is little chance that Apple would invest huge resources on the autonomous driving systems only to license the technology to other car manufacturers. That’s not how its business works.

The Cupertino company will go “all-in or all-out” of autonomous cars within two years, said Guggenheim. Apple will either expand the project to build full-fledged self-driving cars or scrap the entire project. It hasn’t yet decided on building an actual car, though. Robert Cirha noted that Apple will most likely go “all-in” considering the technology disruption and the massive size of the total addressable market (TAM).

Building a full-fledged Apple car would be in line with the company’s habit of controlling its entire ecosystem. We know that the future of mobility is autonomous and electric, and Apple wouldn’t want to give up on such a lucrative opportunity.

However, building an Apple car would pose multiple challenges to the company. Even though it has hired hundreds of experts from other automakers, Apple at its core is still a consumer electronics company with little expertise in car design.

Since Apple would be designing self-branded vehicles from scratch, it would take years before it can build a world-class car. Then comes the matter of manufacturing and supply chain management.

Since it lacks any automobile manufacturing capabilities, it will have to outsource manufacturing to another firm or partner with an established automaker. Also, the Apple car will have to compete not only with EV makers like Tesla but also with established players like Toyota, Ford, Volkswagen, and BMW.