The current rumor making the rounds is that Apple might be interested in creating their own electric car – a project with an internal codename of “Titan.” The usual suspects – people familiar with the matter, unnamed sources, etc. have sited evidence including, but not limited to Apple hirings, internal employee movement, and other Apple research that points towards some variety of vehicle coming out of Cupertino.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple has assigned as many as several hundred employees to work on the project. Apple was naturally tight-lipped on the whole ordeal and refused to comment.
It’s reported that Vice President Steve Zadesky has been assigned to head the group. Mr. Zadesky is a former Ford engineer, so the automotive background is certainly evident. Other notable hirings include the September hiring of Johann Jungwirth, the former R&D President and Chief Executive at Mercedes Benz North America and Marc Newson, a longtime friend of Apple designer Jony Ive, and a designer who has created concept car designs for Ford.
While hiring former auto-industry executives might not create much smoke on its own, it’s also been reported that Apple has had employees researching robotics and materials consistent with automotive factories as well as automotive products.
The Wall Street Journal also reminds us that while starting an auto manufacturing facility is quite expensive, Apple might be singularly qualified to handle that expense:
Manufacturing a car is enormously expensive. A single plant usually costs well over $1 billion and requires a massive supply chain to produce the more than 10,000 components. Elon Musk , the chief executive of electric-car maker Tesla Motors Inc., said last fall that it is “really hard” to make a car, as the company struggled to ramp up production on its Model S sedan.
The expense is a barrier to entry to many potential competitors, but would be less of a hurdle for Apple, which reported holding $178 billion in cash as of Dec. 27, 2014.
These latest rumors have probably been fueled by the alleged Apple minivans seen driving around California recently. It was reported that these were some sort of self-driving cars, though they looked more like mapping vehicles to potentially help Apple Maps compete with the much more established Google Maps. For what it’s worth, those pesky “people familiar with the project” say that self-driving cars are not part of Apple’s current project.
Apple has already dabbled with the auto industry with their upcoming Car Play functionality. It’s possible that creating their own car could be the next step. Or it’s entirely possible that the whole project will be scrapped, or the research will go towards other project, or any number of other potential outcomes.
What do you think about this potential foray into the automotive industry? Will Apple create the iPod of cars? Will this project even come to fruition? Let us know what you think in the comments, or on Google+, Facebook, or Twitter.Source: The Wall Street Journal