Apple has always been ultra-secretive with its car project though there is no way one can doubt its existence anymore. Not after Randell Iwasaki, Director of Contra Costa Transportation Authority, said while talking to CNET that Apple has approached him about using their facilities to test its future car.
Honda and Acura are the other two car makers that are currently engaged in extensive testing of their respective self-driving cars.
Iwasaki also mentioned Google to be another company apart from Apple that is eager to test its self-driving car at the GoMentum Station. Having served as a nuclear weapon store during the cold war days, GoMentum Station offers a maze of lanes and by-lanes which car makers consider to be the perfect setting for autonomous cars to hone their driving skills.
Iwasaki though didn’t mention when Apple begins with its testing program and such though the car won’t be as elusive once that starts. Interestingly, while Apple isn’t confirming (or denying) anything on this, Tesla CEO Elon Musk seems to have an idea about what eventually is shaping up to be his competitor.
As such, while Musk projected 2020 as the likely schedule for Apple to finally launch its ambitious car, he also feels it might be a bit too late for the company to enter the car business. Musk also held the future Apple car in high esteem, saying it is turning out to be a nice electric car.
“Apple will probably make a good car and be successful,” Musk said at the Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes. “They should have embarked on [the car] project sooner.”
Notwithstanding Musk’s views on Apple car, Oppenheimer analyst Andrew Uerkwitz though feels it’s a business that’s fraught with too many risks which again could backfire on the Cupertino giant in the long run.
“There’re supply chain issues, and I think you’ve got to get scale and so forth. It’s very capital intensive. I wouldn’t expect a positive [return on investment] for many, many years,” said Andrew Uerkwitz.
Musk has earlier termed Apple as a Tesla graveyard, what with several of its former employees now working in the Apple car project.
Musk, however, feels Google won’t be making cars themselves but would license others to do the same. Google is testing self-driving for quite some time now, and it remains to be seen when the company finally offers commercial versions of self-driving cars.
Tesla Model S happens to be the first car to offer self-driving abilities, some sort of it at least. Musk though said it could be two more years before fully autonomous cars become a reality. Tesla also holds the distinction of being the first to offer all-electric cars without compromising on performance or range. Tesla is aiming to produce half a million cars by 2018 followed by a million cars annually by 2020.