After months of rumors, it seems increasingly clear that Apple has an electric car in the works.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple has a team of up to 1,000 employees working in secret on a branded electric vehicle as part of a project codenamed “Titan.” Anonymous sources told the paper that the initial design of the car resembles a minivan.
The Journal story comes just hours after a Financial Times reported that the tech giant was hiring automative experts for a top-secret project.
Apple appointed Apple executive and former former Ford engineer Steve Zadesky to lead the group almost a year ago, the Journal claims.
Apple may choose not to go forward with the project — but the R&D efforts needed to make a vehicle, such as creating the dashboard software, electronics and a battery that can take a beating over long distances, would still prove useful in developing other Apple products.
The company has been known to explore technologies and build prototypes that never actually make it to the market; the long-rumored “iTV” television still hasn’t arrived, and may never. Even if this project is different, it will likely be at least several years before an Apple car does hit the road.
Apple has previously worked with automakers to create an in-car software platform called CarPlay, which adds many iOS features such as Siri and iTunes to the dashboard of a car.
Apple executives have reportedly met with various contract manufacturers for luxury cars such as Austrian Magna Steyr. In September, the company hired former Mercedes Benz North American R&D head Johann Jungwirth and the company’s industrial design team includes many designers who previously worked at European automakers, according to the Journal.
A LinkedIn search reveals that there are at least 46 former employees of Tesla currently working at Apple. Read more…