Last week's report by Reuters sent shares of companies that build parts for autonomous cars, like lidar sensors, soaring. But the hype was purely on speculation some of those companies might supply parts for the Apple car, TFI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo warned in a note this weekend.
Kuo has built a reputation for accurately revealing Apple's product launch plans, and he closely follows Apple's supply chain.
"We believe that the current so-called Apple car concept stocks are only speculations by the market and do not involve actual Apple car suppliers," Kuo said. "We also think that because EV/self-driving car technical specs are still evolving, it is too early to talk about the final specs of the Apple car."
Kuo said the market is "too bullish" on the Apple car and he wouldn't be surprised if the Apple car doesn't launch until 2028 or later. The earliest he thinks it could hit the market is 2025. Kuo also suggested that Apple may be too far behind in artificial intelligence to launch a competitive self-driving car.
"If Apple car wants to succeed in the future, the key success factor is big data/AI, not hardware," he said. "One of our biggest concerns about Apple Research 27 December 2020 2 Apple car is that when Apple car is launched, the current self-driving car brands will have accumulated at least five years of big data and be conducive to deep learning/AI. How does Apple, a latecomer, overcome this lagging gap?"
Apple has kept its grand vision for autos relatively quiet. But the company has been testing self-driving technology for a few years now, and CEO Tim Cook has said he views the technology as a way to beef up Apple's AI systems.
Other analysts have been just as skeptical as Kuo.
"Apple conducts R&D in many areas, and while we are not surprised to hear the media once again discuss Project Titan for autos, we are very skeptical that Apple will actually produce a car, as auto sector profitability is much lower," Citi analyst Jim Suva wrote in a note last week.