Apple logo superimposed on a steering wheel to show how an Apple car could look.

Apple Car: News, Price, Release Date, Features, and Rumors

Everything we know about the Apple-branded self-driving car

A consumer electronics company expanding into the automotive industry isn't unheard of—think OPPO or Waymo—but it's definitely a huge move. Although it's not expected for several years, people are already speculating how the Apple car might work. Think: advanced safety features and an iPad-style navigation center, to name a few.

When Will the Apple Car Be Released?

The idea of an Apple car has been circulating since 2014 when CEO Tim Cook reportedly approved a car project named Titan. Apple was rumored to have hired a transmission engineer and the former president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz research and development.

Cook said during a November 2021 interview that the company is focused on autonomy and AI. Even Apple's co-founder Steve Jobs was said to have wanted to design the iCar.

It's become apparent over the years, albeit through slow-moving details, the company's interest in making a car is more tangible than ever:

Lifewire’s Release Date Estimate

Despite Apple's years of interest in a self-driving car, it's safe to say we don't expect one for several more years. We'll draw from Gurman's latest estimate and guess you'll be able to buy the first Apple car sometime around 2027.

Apple Car Price Rumors

Low prices and Apple aren't really synonymous. Granted, Apple products aren't low quality, so elevated prices are expected, no matter what the Apple-branded item is. It's smart to assume Apple's self-driving, electric vehicle will follow suit and cost a pretty penny.

The only way to price the Apple car this far ahead of its release is to look at what other companies are doing. The price for luxury vehicles from competition like Tesla and Lucid Motors range widely, depending on the features you want the car to have. Between just those two, you're looking at anywhere from around $40,000 to $170,000.

If there are several models to pick from, there might be a lower-end version without auto-driving or that doesn't include the same perks as the more expensive models. If so, there might be a more basic, but still fancy, Apple-branded electric car for around $35,000, which is much more in the ballpark of what's considered affordable.

It might be tempting to think since the iPhone is so prevalent, Apple is in the game of pricing its products in a way which makes them financially reasonable for most people. But the iPhone (and Apple Watch, and MacBook, etc.) is far from being the least expensive smartphone on the market, so it's not price driving most people to choose Apple products.

Instead, quality and brand loyalty are big motivators to stick with any company. If Apple's other products are considered here, it makes sense its car will be built with first-rate materials are smart, safe, and user-friendly, likely exceeding that of every other car available at the time.

If the renders created by Vanarama have any truth to them, it's clear this will be an expensive vehicle.

Apple Car concept

Vanarama

In short, a low-cost Apple car might not be on the horizon. Actually, owning the vehicle outright might not even be an option, as some people think the car will be used through a subscription service. We'll know for sure how it all works when/if Apple makes an official announcement.

Pre-Order Information

There's a chance pre-orders for the Apple Car will begin a full year or more prior to its actual release. This has also been the tactic for other manufacturers of next-gen vehicles, like Tesla, Canoo, and Aptera.

How the Apple Car Might Work

Exploring the Apple car features reliably isn't something anyone can do this early. But since smart cars are already on the roads today, we're not totally in the dark when anticipating what's most probable about Apple's car.

Self-Driving

The current rumor is the angle Apple will take with its car is to make it fully autonomous. If you're familiar with the Society of Automotive Engineers, SAE calls this Level 5. At most, this means no pedals and no steering wheel. Full automation.

Of course, depending on regulations at the time of release, it might be necessary—desired, even—to have manual override options in place should the self-driving mechanics fail.

We're skeptical, however, Apple will jump into the automotive industry with a self-driving car leading the way. It makes more sense Apple would follow what other companies have done by starting off with a smarter-than-average car that has lane assistance, semi-auto-pilot, etc., instead of jumping into a no-steering-wheel version immediately.

But, it's important to frame this accurately. It's unlikely the Apple car will hit the streets any sooner than several years from now. That's a lot of time to add to Apple's aforementioned history exploring this idea. New technologies will undoubtedly emerge by then, some might even be introduced by Apple itself.

What will power the intelligence behind the car's autonomy? The processor that's in development, according to MacRumors, might be based on the processor used in Apple's other products.

PatentlyApple.com uncovered a patent in late 2021 that reveals warning systems that could be built-in to the car, like alerts and exterior text regarding speed, the status of oncoming cars, or when it's engaging self-driving mode. Other information it might be able to show include upcoming weather, collision risks, nearby traffic jams, etc.

Interior

If the Apple car will have no steering wheel, it must mean you don't need to watch the road (though, this level of autonomy could still be years out), so how would you spend your time in such a vehicle?

According to Mark Gurman at Bloomberg, Apple has played with the idea of the car having seating where the passengers face each other, similar to what's featured in electric vehicle startup Canoo's Lifestyle Vehicle.

Canoo Lifestyle Vehicle rear lounge seating
Canoo Lifestyle Vehicle rear lounge seating.

Canoo

In that car's iteration of this setup, it's just the backseat passengers riding in this kind of luxury. But if the Apple car "driver" doesn't need to monitor the road, the front seats could just as easily spin so you can stretch your legs and face everyone at once, no rearview mirror required. In fact, Apple was granted a patent in January 2022 for a vehicle seat with reclining mechanism.

Apple Car concept
Seating concept for Apple Car.

Vanarama

A large display between the two front seats of a new car is expected. It helps with navigation, music playback, vehicle controls, etc. As you might have guessed, one rumor is the display in this car will resemble an iPad.

In fact, it might be an iPad in every way but in name. It'll most likely run a modified version of iPadOS with Apple Maps, Apple Music, Siri, etc., and will work in a familiar way but have vehicle-specific toggles.

Tesla Model S interior
Tesla Model S interior.

Tesla

In the (not so distant?) future, Apple's car might even include a detachable infotainment device so when the driver swivels the chair around, they can still access climate control, music, etc.

Range

The prediction is Apple's car will be not only self-driving, but also electric, only there isn't a lot to be said yet about range. Most new EVs are capable of at least 250 miles, but some exceed 400 miles, and even fewer claim up to 1,000-mile range.

The Lucid Air is one example of a luxury EV that could be comparable to the Apple car, and its claim is up to 520 miles per charge. As of late 2021, it's marketed as the longest-range electric car in the world.

While we don't know the specifics on the battery capacity of the Apple car, considering the several years they'll have to develop something better than what's used in existing cars, we're probably looking at a low-end model which can easily exceed 500 miles.

In fact, Apple might even be developing a brand-new battery design to ensure ample range, according to MacRumors:

Apple is creating a "monocell" design that will bulk up the individual battery cells and free up space inside the battery pack by removing pouches and modules that hold battery materials. This will allow for more active material in a smaller package. The battery technology has been described as "next level" and similar to "the first time you saw the iPhone."

 

Apple Car concept
Apple Car exterior concept.

Vanarama

Vanarama's concept is only one take on how the car might look. Of course, nobody knows for sure, but Erick Martinez's designs show a much smoother exterior.

Safety

Automated driving carries several prerequisites which make the car safer than one not as smart. Features like lane centering, automatic braking, and blind spot alerts are a given, so what unique features might Apple do to make its car safer than other vehicles on the road?

We obviously don't know just yet, but AppleInsider reports Apple is working on some unique safety measures, with the goal being to "spare customers from driving fatigue when they're on long road trips." However this takes shape, it's plausible that the iPad-like display will play a part.

However, if that's true, then the idea of a Level 5 self-driving car goes out the window, since fatigue (at least in the sense of driving attention) isn't a concern for a truly autonomous vehicle. In fact, for Apple to ever claim ultimate safety, they might need to keep the steering wheel as a backup measure.

The company's other products feature safety characteristics like fall detection and automated emergency calling, so it's a given similar sensors and other predictive behaviors will show up in its car.

Other Features

Considering the proprietary nature of Apple's messaging services, FaceTime and iMessage, it's possible its car will work similarly. The built-in iPad might be used to communicate with other Apple car drivers on the road.

The usual understanding of vehicle-to-vehicle communication involves vehicles knowing where the other ones are for safety reasons: A "Stop accelerating, another car is approaching!" type of feature. But this could also be an iCar messaging service meant for texting other Apple cars.

Likewise, the Apple Watch and iPhone will no doubt function as keyless tools to unlock the car. Facial recognition could find its way to Apple's vehicle, too, to unlock it and/or automatically customize the interior to the user who sits down.

Hyper-targeted climate control is another rumor we've heard. Modern vehicles already support this so that you can heat the driver and cool the passenger, for example. Apple might extend this functionality with built-in sensors that target specific parts of the body depending on the user's current temperature reading (e.g., cool your arm and face if they're in direct sunlight, but heat the rest of your body).

Wireless charging for your iPhone and iPad are sure to be included in this car. In fact, some of Apple's devices can charge each other, so will that functionality come to the Apple car, too? As far-out as it sounds, we've heard that the company has a patent (we couldn't verify this) that would allow vehicle-to-vehicle charging—i.e., an Apple car charging another Apple car. We're doubtful that this would be one of the car's first functions, but maybe in the distant future.

It's all conjecture at this stage, but it's not inconceivable.

The Latest News About the Apple Car

You can get more Smart and Connected Life news from Lifewire, but here are other related stories and some rumors we've found about the Apple car specifically: