An iCar? iTruck? Either way, Apple is delving head-first into the automotive industry. The tech giant is developing a self-driving car, which is reportedly "similar to Tesla." However, according to Elon Musk, Tesla could have been Apple's all along.

Commenting on Apple’s plan to make a mass-produced car on Twitter yesterday, Musk stated the news was “strange, but true.” He also revealed that he even once tried to get Apple to buy Tesla, but Tim Cook declined.

"During the darkest days of the Model 3 program, I reached out to Tim Cook to discuss the possibility of Apple acquiring Tesla (for 1/10 of our current value)." Musk continued: "He refused to take the meeting."

While Apple missed out on its first chance to join the automotive game, the tech company is still pulling out some secret weapons to get ahead. According to Reuters, Apple is banking on its "unique ‘monocell’ design” to bulk up the individual cells in the battery, freeing up space inside the battery pack by eliminating pouches and modules that hold battery materials. This should mean that more active material can be packed inside the battery, giving the car a longer range.

“It’s next level,” a source said of Apple’s battery technology. “Like the first time you saw the iPhone.” On top of the new monocell design, Apple is reportedly investigating lithium iron phosphate as a potentially safer alternative to lithium-ion batteries that would also be less likely to overheat.

According to the same report, Apple is opting to use outside partners for elements of the system, including lidar sensors (Apple’s iPhone 12 Pro and iPad Pro models released this year both feature lidar sensors). This technology could help self-driving cars get a three-dimensional view of the road; the vehicle may feature multiple lidar sensors for scanning different distances, with some derived from Apple’s internally developed units.

Sources suggest that Apple is expecting to unveil its vehicles in 2024.

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