After re-inventing music and smartphones, Apple appears to have its sights sets on the automobile industry. If the rumors are true, Apple is now building an electric car.
An Apple car is just the kind of new product investors have been begging for: Auto manufacturing is a $50 billion-a-year industry. If Apple was to take just a 10 percent share of the industry, the company would be ringing up $500 million yearly in new revenue.
Apple has been tight-lipped about the project. In an interview with journalist Charlie Rose last year, CEO Tim Cook told him, “There are products that we’re working on that no one knows about.” The Apple car, along with the Apple Watch and Apple TV, are what many consider “the next big thing” for the Cupertino, California-based company.
Code-named “Titan” and being developed by a team of several hundred, the Apple car could be consumer-ready by 2020. Here’s what we know so far:
- Apple is developing an Apple-branded, self-driving electric car. The current design is in line with a minivan. Apple has even flown execs to Austria to talk to established manufacturers of luxury vehicles.
- The iCar was a Steve Jobs “dream project.” An Apple car has been in development at Apple in some form for years. Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of marketing, said in 2012 court testimony that Apple execs discussed the idea before the iPhone was released in 2007.
- Apple is engineering success. Steve Zadesky joined Apple 16 years ago from Ford. Zadesky is reportedly in charge of “Project Titan.” Apple also hired John Morrell, a former lead engineer for Segway (Morrell turned down a post at Yale as the director of Engineering Innovation & Design.) While it’s not known if Morrell is working on the Titan project, he is considered a “robotics whiz” and might be able to offer some unique insight on a self-driving car.
According to their LinkedIn profiles: Haran Arasaratnam left Ford to work at Apple as a battery engineer. Apple also hired Robert Gough. Gough spent the past four years at auto supplier Autoliv working on projects, including helming the company’s radar division and developing active safety sensor technology.
Famed industrial designer Marc Newson is also working part-time for Apple Special Projects group. Newson designed a concept car for Ford Motor Company a few years back.
- Apple is aggressively hiring for “Titan.” Apple has also been offering signing bonuses of $250,000 and salary increases to employees it’s been trying to lure away from Tesla. “Apple tries very hard to recruit from Tesla,” Elon Musk recently told Bloomberg BusinessWeek. “But so far they’ve actually recruited very few people.”
Apple has been known to spend millions on development for projects that never saw the light of day, but the Apple car is finally “pretty close to reality,” based on a source close to the project. No official word yet on what an Apple car might cost.
Software for Self-Driving Cars
It’s also possible that Apple is developing software that it would sell to other car manufacturers. Apple CarPlay was rolled out last year and auto industry sources site vehicle intelligence and software as “the key factors” leading the development of automated driving technology.
iPhone & iPad app development for the auto industry gives a whole new meaning to mobile development. Audi, Ford and other manufacturers are already working on their own apps that can add additional features and functionality to your ride.