Apple targets 2025 for launch of fully autonomous electric vehicle - report

The Apple logo - coming soon to a car near you?
The car is planned to have no steering wheel or pedals. Photo credit: Getty Images

Apple is accelerating plans to launch its much-rumoured electric car by 2025 with a focus on creating a fully autonomous vehicle, according to a report from Bloomberg News.

Mark Gurman, who writes extensively about the Cupertino-based tech giant, reported project lead Kevin Lynch has changed the focus from limited self-driving functions around steering and acceleration to something that doesn’t require human intervention

Lynch initially joined Apple in 2013 to run the software side of Apple's smartwatch business but started working on the car earlier this year.

He took over as head of Project Titan, the internal codename for the car project, after Doug Field left the company in September to join Ford.

According to Gurman, Apple's car would ideally have no steering wheel and pedals, with an interior that could involve seats around the sides of the vehicle so passengers face each other.

That could mean the car's infotainment system would sit in the middle, letting all passengers interact with it during the ride.

The push towards a quicker release than may have been expected will have been helped by hires like CJ Moore, who was Tesla's self-driving software director, as well as experts from Volve, Daimler and General Motors in recent months.

But while 2025 is the target, the timing may change due to the complexity of the self-driving system.

"If Apple is unable to reach its goal, it could either delay a release or initially sell a car with lesser technology," Gurman wrote.

However "people familiar with the situation" told Bloomberg the company had reached a key milestone, with the core work on the processor that will power the system largely complete.

The same team that designed Apple's own silicon chips that power its iPhones, iPads, iMacs and MacBooks have reportedly worked on the processor.

Gurman also reported Apple was likely to sell the vehicles directly to consumers, instead of focusing on a self-driving fleet that would compete with the likes of Uber and Lyft.

The company's shares rose by nearly 3 percent to hit a new record high following Bloomberg's report.

The iPhone maker had previously engaged with BMW, Hyundai, Nissan and Toyota to explore joint development of its car before deciding to go it alone.