A slew of rumors regarding Apple and its plans to manufacture its own electric vehicle have been firing up since last week, and the latest reports claim that the Cupertino tech giant is hoping to start manufacture on the vehicle by 2020.
Earlier reports provided some insight into the Apple car, stating that “several” hundred employees are secretly working on the vehicle, which is internally known as “Project Titan.” Reports have also claimed that the Apple car would be an electric vehicle similar to a minivan, while the company has also found itself in some recent legal troubles, due to poaching claims from battery maker A123. But legal problems aside, a new report from Bloomberg cites people familiar with the matter, saying that Apple’s top brass is hoping to begin production on the electric vehicle within the next five years.
As it takes a minimum five to seven years for established automakers to develop a new model from the ground up, Apple’s five-year timeline may seem unrealistic to some – Apple, after all, is a consumer electronics giant that’s yet to establish itself in the automotive industry. But the company does appear to be very busy on the project – Bloomberg also corroborated rumors that Apple is hiring a specialized team of workers for Titan, mainly consisting of batteries and robotics specialists. As for the number of people working on Titan, Bloomberg’s sources claim that there are about two hundred involved in the project, and not “several hundred” as earlier reports had suggested.
The Apple car rumors had started last week, as reports made mention of Apple’s recent hires from the automotive space, such as former Mercedes research and development chief Johann Jungwirth. At that time, it wasn’t sure just what Apple was cooking up – some said the company is actually working on a vehicle, while others believed it may be working on some sort of infotainment features for vehicles. Also, word of Apple’s car lab had leaked out earlier in February, as several Dodge Caravans were sighted in the San Francisco Bay Area, boasting of some high-tech surveying tools. Rumors at the time suggested that Apple is testing autonomous car tech, though it’s also been speculated that the vans are there for a totally different purpose – a mapping project to compete against Google Street View.
However, it isn’t even sure whether Titan will lead to a full-blown product launch and release. Previous Apple “skunkworks” projects amounted to little more than vaporware, and if the Apple car doesn’t live up to the top brass’ expectations and standards, there’s a chance the project may ultimately be scrapped.
Even with high hopes that the Apple car would be a game changer in the automotive space and a viable competitor against Detroit’s “Big Three” of General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler, the company may have to deal with some legal issues, as stated briefly above. A separate report says that battery manufacturer A123 Systems filed a lawsuit against Apple, claiming that the latter company poached some of its top talents for the Titan/Apple car project. The legal ramifications of such a case remain unknown, but it’s now clearer than ever that Apple is planning something big, and something it would rather work on in secret.