Certain Apple rumours refuse to die - perhaps because they are simply too appealing to let go, or perhaps because the company's reputation for secrecy lends itself to wild speculation. Whatever the reason, the iCar rumour is doing the rounds again, and this time we've even got a firm release date (or at least month).
The Chinese-language site Economic Daily News says Apple's electric car is firmly on track for launch, and will come out in September 2021, which it describes as "at least two years earlier than the original plan". This theory is "confirmed", EDN says, based on sources in the Taiwan supply chain.
The radically early delivery of the product would by itself be enough to give pause: the idea that a company could enter an entirely new market not just on time but two years ahead of schedule is an astonishing one. Apple, as we know, is not a company given to rushing, and will generally choose to delay or even cancel a project rather than getting it wrong.
But our scepticism here is doubled by the lack of corroborating sources - other sites almost universally predict that 2023-2025 is a more realistic launch timeframe - and the fact that EDN has so unconvincing a body of work behind it to inspire trust.
The pundit-monitoring site AppleTrack gives it an accuracy rating of just 36.8% at the time of writing, and observes drily that it is "the lowest-rated source that we track". The only Apple-related prediction EDN got right in the whole of 2020 was that the iPhone would get 5G, and it didn't take a genius to see that one coming.
I'm not willing to write off the iCar concept entirely, since we know Apple is interested in this area; the company's research is more likely to bear fruit in the software area, in my opinion, but eventually - and particularly if the manufacturers don't play ball with its CarPlay integration plans - Apple may decide to take a punt and build a car of its own. That's assuming it doesn't simply buy a car manufacturer.
Back in 2015 we said Apple was more likely to make a flying car than an iCar, but the odds have shortened since then; I'd now say that it's at the very least an outside possibility for the medium to long term. But while I'm reluctant to be too dogmatic about these things - after firmly, and wrongly, refusing to believe that Apple would launch its over-ear headphones before Christmas 2020 - a September 2021 launch schedule seems fanciful.
For the latest rumours about this semi-mythical project, read our Apple iCar news hub. And catch up on the latest bargains in our roundup of the best Apple Christmas deals.