A report in the Telegraph says that Apple is developing an electric car in a German research lab.
If the report is true, Apple is working with a level of secrecy usually reserved for military projects. The Telegraph picked up a German newspaper report that the company has hired 20 automotive industry employees and brought them to Berlin to work on an electric car in a venture codenamed Project Titan.
Furthermore, the German paper, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, is reporting that all the new hires are young, probably in the Millennial generation, and they have varied backgrounds in software, hardware, engineering, and sales.
There’s been almost no real news regarding an Apple car, but the Telegraph expects it to be an EV, rather than an autonomous vehicle, which rival Google is working on. An Apple car could hit the market in 2019 or 2020. Recently, car-enthusiast magazine Motor Trend took a beating on social media when its attempt to feature a rendering of a potential Apple car was met with scorn.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports that while research in development is also occurring in California in addition to Berlin, it will be built in Austria by Magna Steyr.
It’s not unusual for Apple to be secretive about upcoming projects, but the company has dropped more than a few hints. For one, Apple has hired Megan McClain away from Volkswagen, as well as also hiring Vinay Palakkode. McClain is an engineer who has worked on autonomous driving, and Palakkode worked at Carnegie Mellon University as a graduate researcher. Carnegie Mellon is heavily involved in autonomous driving research.
Apple CEO Tim Cook’s comments last October also drove speculation.
“It would seem like there will be massive change in that industry, massive change,” Cook said at the Wall Street Journal’s WSJDLive conference in California. “You may not agree with that. That’s what I think.”
“When I look at the automobile, what I see is that software becomes an increasingly important part of the car of the future,” Cook also said. “You see that autonomous driving becomes much more important.”
Even Tesla CEO Elon Musk has added comment, remarking that it’s hard to hide a project when over 1,000 people have been hired to work on it, while also referring to Apple as a graveyard for former Tesla employees, as many Apple hires were let go from Tesla.
At least two key Apple employees, including co-founder Steve Wozniak, drive Teslas, and Apple design chief Sir Jony Ive is a car enthusiast.
The company initially eyed the automotive industry in 2008, but decided against jumping in due to the economic recession and its own focus on the iPhone.
Apple has even registered three Web domains, but they could be set aside for Apple’s CarPlay smartphone mirroring system or simply to deny others from using them. They are: apple.car, apple.auto, and apple.cars