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: Apple reportedly revving up electric-vehicle plans — ‘a matter of when, not if’

Apple Inc. is attempting to speed up its car-development plans with a focus on self-driving functions, according to a report Thursday.

Apple
AAPL,
+2.65%

had been exploring the development of both a fully self-driving electric car and a vehicle with fewer self-driving capabilities, but it now wants to focus on the fully self-driving option, Bloomberg News reported Thursday. The report mentioned that Apple is hoping to introduce the car in four years, whereas it had earlier been targeting a time frame of five to seven years.

Read: How Apple’s buyback party could continue for 15 more years

Apple’s ability to meet its new goal will depend in part on whether the company can get the self-driving technology finished in time, the Bloomberg report continued, noting that more established car makers like Tesla Inc.
TSLA,
-0.19%

still aren’t ready to launch fully autonomous vehicles despite years of development.

As far as design, Apple is considering leaving out a steering wheel and pedals, while potentially allowing for “an emergency takeover mode,” per the Bloomberg report.

Apple’s automotive division has seen a change at the top recently, with Doug Field — who had taken over the efforts after spending time as head of engineering at Tesla — leaving for Ford Motor Co.
F,
-1.90%

in September amid a reported exodus of top executives in the division. Apple replaced him with an internal manager known for working on the Apple Watch, Kevin Lynch, who does not have automotive experience but has recruited experienced employees, including recent hires of former Canoo Inc.
GOEV,
-12.22%

Chief Executive Ulrich Kranz and Christian Moore, the former head of Tesla’s automated-software development.

Apple didn’t respond to MarketWatch’s request for comment about its electric-vehicle plans.

“We continue to believe it’s a matter of when, not if, Apple enters the EV race,” Wedbush analyst Dan Ives wrote after the Bloomberg report came out. He sees a 60% to 65% chance that Apple puts out “its own stand-alone car” by 2025.

Ives anticipates that the company will announce a partnership during 2022 to help advance its automotive ambitions.

“We would rather see Apple partner on the EV path than start building its own vehicles/factories given the margin and financial model implications down the road, coupled with the strategic product risk around such a gargantuan endeavor,” he wrote.

Shares of Apple spiked shortly after the Bloomberg report came out and were up 2.6% in afternoon trading Thursday. Apple shares are up 7.7% over the past three months as the Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA,
-0.14%
,
which counts Apple as a component, has increased 2.7%.

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