Thanks to Tesla the electric vehicle is an exploding market segment, which partly explains why Apple is making noise lately regarding its car ambitions. The iPhone maker appears ready to compete with the rumored release of the Apple Car a few years from now. But how exactly close is Apple to that dream?

A team is working full-time on a program that Apple called Project Titan. The details are sketchy but the project seemed geared toward completing two things - the development of an AI-powered software that will govern a self-driving automobile and possibly the building of a fully functional Apple Car.

There were talks of the tech giant tapping the expertise of an automaker to take charge of the hardware side of the project. CNN said this is the fastest route for Apple as the company is years behind the leading player, which is Tesla.

However, for Apple to be a major player in the EV market the company must have full control of its automobile business, meaning the hardware and software have to be developed and completed in-house. This is the business model employed by Elon Musk in building Tesla from scratch and Apple can follow the same route, which proved successful.

Analysts said Apple is employing two approaches in realizing its Apple Car dreams. For the short-term, the company is accelerating the creation of the software that will power the smart car and this will be tested on vehicles soon. There are reports that the Cupertino firm is partnering with Volkswagen for this purpose and collaboration with other automakers will follow soon.

But the long-term goal is to roll out a smart car that bears the Apple signature. It's clear that Tesla now holds sway on an industry that is seen to generate billions over the next few years, and Apple is racing to get a tight grip on that market.

CNN added that Apple's tact in entering the car industry should be the same when the company introduced the iPhone, which turned out a game-changer. Apple was not the first in the smartphone business but its entry while quite late in the game proved the biggest winner.

Apple insider Ming-chi Kuo recently reported that the Apple Car will not be rushed. True, the project is being worked on but seeing the actual car too soon is not happening, said the analyst, who is known for his mostly accurate predictions on upcoming Apple releases.

Per the New York Post, the Apple Car's earliest release date is between 2027 and 2028, and Kuo said it will be worth the long wait. The smart vehicle's strongest selling points would be its breakthrough battery technology and an autonomous driving system.

It was suggested that in terms of its battery features, the Apple Car is "the next level," likely reliving the time when Steve Jobs first introduced the iPhone to the public.