Apple has delayed the production schedule for the Apple Car from 2026 to 2028, as reported by Bloomberg. The vehicle is expected to feature a Level 2+ advanced driver assistance system.
- Aim for Fully Autonomous Driving: Apple Car Once Planned to Remove the Steering Wheel
Apple has named its project for the Apple Car “Titan”. The initial concept envisioned a fully electric vehicle without a steering wheel, potentially achieving Autonomous Driving Level 5.
The delineation of autonomous driving levels places Level 3 as a watershed: vehicles below this level still require driver control (by eyes and hands), with the system providing assistance.
Vehicles at Level 3 and above gradually empower the system to assume greater control, gradually freeing the driver’s hands and eyes. Therefore, only vehicles beyond Level 3 can be considered truly autonomous vehicle.
- Downgrading the Autonomous Driving Level: Apple’s Compromise with Market Realities
Having accomplished numerous revolutionary innovations in the consumer electronics realm, it’s understandable that Apple aims to replicate its successful model in the automotive industry. High-level autonomous driving represents a battleground where Apple can leverage its strengths.
However, with the complexity of vehicle components and the stricter validation standards for automotive regulations compared to commercial ones, Apple, if it intends to venture into car manufacturing, still needs to align with the technological development levels of other components.
For instance, to eliminate the steering wheel configuration, mature wire-controlled steering technology is necessary. However, among all car manufacturers currently, only Tesla, Toyota, and Infinity have adopted this technology, resulting in a relatively small market size.
Related component suppliers also are still in the process of research and development or observing the market. Even if suitable suppliers are found, the adoption of such advanced technology may raise the cost of car manufacturing.
Additionally, the trust between humans and machines has yet to mature, and related regulations are still under development. Achieving full confidence from drivers to take their hands and eyes off the steering wheel, even under the Apple brand, is not an easily achievable goal.
- Prioritizing Safety and Stability in Vehicle Design: Apple’s Compromise is the Right Decision
Given the direct impact on driver safety and the long product lifecycle, the automotive industry, whether traditional or electric vehicles, prioritizes safety and stability in design principles. Even with innovative technologies, their priority is secondary to safety and stability.
Designing an electric vehicle without a steering wheel is undoubtedly enticing, however, given the need for further validation in technology, regulations, and human-machine trust, the production timeline for Apple Car may continue to be delayed.
Additionally, the automotive industry adheres closely to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs theory. At this stage, the primary concerns for car manufacturers are not the presence of steering wheels or the level of autonomous driving but rather range anxiety and high car prices. These concerns belong to the “lower-level” needs of the demand pyramid, affecting the basic survival conditions of manufacturers.
Only by prioritizing the satisfaction of these types of needs can manufacturers proceed to fulfill higher-level demands for advanced autonomous driving.
If Apple Car’s project adjustments are indeed true, it represents a compromise with reality. However, it allows Apple to quickly introduce products to capture market share. After all, only by successfully achieving the goal of production from nothing to something can Apple have the opportunity to create a truly Apple-dominated battlefield.