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The long-standing reputation of the Apple car can finally become a reality.

After sputtering in development several years ago and then being closed before it saw the light of day, the technology giant’s car project is apparently back on track.

Several outlets, including CNBC and the Wall Street Journal, have reported that Apple is discussing a deal to produce a vehicle in the United States.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but the company rarely discusses future products.

Given Apple’s status as the world’s most valuable company – worth around $ 23 trillion in the stock market – any new product pursued should be taken seriously.

“We continue to believe that it is a question of when Apple will not enter the EV race,” Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives wrote in a research note, referring to electric vehicles.

But assuming it actually happens, what will the vehicle look like, what will it cost and how much different will it be from other electric cars on the market? We try to answer some of the questions below.

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Will it be an electric vehicle?

Undoubtedly. There is really no chance that Apple will take a competitive market for gasoline cars. Expect it to be a battery-powered electric vehicle.

Given the company’s expertise in battery-powered consumer electronics, it makes sense that it would seek to expand this expertise to automobiles.

“Look for Apple to potentially introduce the next level / game-changing battery technology in its cars,” Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas wrote in a research note.

Just remember: Batteries for cars are much different than batteries for consumer electronics. You will not let your laptop sit outside in the rain overnight and expect it to work in the morning.

What will it be called?

OK, speculators seem to think it will be called iCar. But it can be a little too sweet for a product you pay tens of thousands of dollars for.

Apple’s code name for the car project was Project Titan – at least when it was canceled around 2016 after a couple of years of development.

As much as we know: The vehicle will not be called Titan. That’s the name of a full-size Nissan pickup truck.

How much will it cost?

Have you ever heard of a cheap Apple product? We did not think so. No one offers a price estimate for an Apple vehicle yet – we do not even know if it would be a car, an SUV, a pickup, a van or something completely different.

But it would be shocking if it cost less than the average price of a new vehicle sold in the United States in the fourth quarter, which peaked at $ 40,000, according to car research site Edmunds.

Who will handle it?

The reports suggest that Apple is in discussions with the company that produces Hyundai and Kia cars. The company would invest more than $ 3 billion dollars to install the vehicle at a facility in Georgia.

The southeastern United States is generally where foreign automakers have gone to assemble their vehicles to a large extent to avoid the likelihood of a trade union effort in the Midwest, where United Auto Workers represents hourly workers at General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler.

Another possibility is that contract maker Magna International will be involved, according to Evercore ISI analyst Chris McNally. Magna has experience in managing complex car production projects for customers.

Will it be a self-driving car?

All the major car manufacturers and many technology companies work with self-driving cars in some capacity. And analysts said they would be surprised if Apple did not do the same.

“Don’t expect a steering wheel,” Jonas said. “We have a hard time imagining Apple entering the automotive market with a vehicle design that involves human intervention in the driving process.”

He compared an Apple car to a steering wheel with “an iPhone with physical buttons and a coiled rubber cord attached to a wall.”

But a self-driving car could impose a “longer time frame” in part because of Apple CEO Tim Cook’s cautious approach to uncovering new products, Ives said. Car manufacturers and technology companies have not yet solved the most difficult challenges associated with autonomous driving.

When will it arrive?

It is at least a few years free. Ives suggested that it could be unveiled as soon as 2024. But will it be ready to produce by then? It seems unlikely.

The pattern in the industry is to announce cars that are still far out. Tesla has made it a habit to reveal cars more than two years before they are ready to drive out. But it would be natural to expect Apple to start making reservations as soon as the car is announced.

Keep in mind that it usually takes three to five years to design and build a new vehicle from scratch, so 2024 may require “Herculean-like car production capabilities” plus troubleshooting battery production and regulatory barriers, Ives said.

Why now?

Battery technology has improved, and advances in autonomous vehicle systems have reached a point where it may finally be possible to make an unconventional vehicle.

But there is another factor that cannot be ignored: the political environment.

“When we take a step back, we think this speaks to what we believe is a golden age for electric cars on the horizon with a green tidal wave expected in the US under a Biden administration and China seeing sky-high consumer demand across the board,” Ives said. .

The point: Biden is expected to support incentives to produce or buy electric cars, which do not emit climate change like petrol cars.

Can it all break again?

Yes. Apple’s previous car project was dissolved after it allegedly delivered insufficient results.

Perhaps the biggest risk is that Apple decides that it’s just too expensive to dive into car production, that’s where cash can go to die.

Just ask Tesla boss Elon Musk. He openly acknowledged that Tesla came within several weeks after the money ran out for the production of the compact car Model 3 in 2018.

Apple will not run out of money soon. But shareholders may not respond kindly to a money-losing investment when the company’s other products are cash cows.

Follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.

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