Rumors are swirling that Apple is seeking partners to help build its autonomous vehicle, and one source has now speculated that The Apple Car predicted to lack a steering wheel.
“Don’t expect steering wheels,” says Adam Jones, a Morgan Stanley Auto & Shared Mobility analyst. Here’s what he wrote in a research note to investors, seen by AppleInsider.
We have a hard time imagining Apple entering the automotive market with a vehicle design that involves human intervention in the driving process. Just our view but an Apple car with a steering wheel is like an iPhone with physical buttons and a coiled rubber cord connected to a wall. If we’re right, then this could really turbocharge investor appreciation on the AV timeline.
He added that the Apple Car would compete directly with Tesla.
Jones also notes that the $3.6 billion that Apple reportedly plans to invest in Kia to produce the Apple Car is “a lot of money to invest into one car factory.”
Apple’s $3.6 billion deal with Kia
Indeed, the sum dwarfs Apple’s $3 billion Beats deal, its biggest acquisition to date. But Apple will need all the manufacturing capacity it can buy if it wants to meet its rumored build plan.
Apparently, Apple and Kia are aiming for a 2024 production run with at least 100,000 vehicles per year, with the ability to ramp up to 400,000 annual units, if needed. Should Apple prove it could manufacture, sell and ship that many cars to customers in a single year, it might capture between one percent and three percent of the global luxury vehicle market, as well as between one percent and four percent of the battery electric vehicle market.
Apple Charger Concept Car
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— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) January 9, 2021
That’s according to JP Morgan analyst Samik Chatterjee, who theorized in a research note seen by AppleInsider that Apple’s entry in the mobility sector could create profits which could easily dwarf the initial $3.6 billion investment. “Would Apple enter this market for a two to five percent share of wallet? Or a 25 to 30 percent share of wallet?” the analyst writes.
According to him, the success of the Apple Car will help grow the battery electric vehicle market just as the iPhone has mainstreamed the smartphone. Aside from selling cars, analysts are expecting Apple to profit from selling future unspecified subscriptions to Apple Car owners.
Apple robotaxis are coming?
CNBC has corroborated earlier reporting saying the Apple Car will be a fully autonomous vehicle, with CNBC speculating that the iPhone maker could launch self-driving robotaxi operations first to earn higher per-unit revenues before selling the Apple Car to consumers.
The Wall Street Journal has corroborated the recent Reuters report saying Apple is partnering with Kia on Apple Car production. “Recently, Hyundai-Kia officials have been reaching out to potential partners in preparation for a deal going through,” according to the newspaper.