Apple wants its electric cars to be ready by 2019
Apple Inc. is accelerating efforts to build an electric car, designating it internally as a “committed project” and setting a target ship date for 2019, according to people familiar with the matter.
The go-ahead came after the company spent more than a year investigating the feasibility of an Apple-branded car, including meetings with two groups of government officials in California. Leaders of the project, code-named Titan , have been given permission to triple the 600-person team, the people familiar with the matter said.
Apple has hired experts in driverless cars, but the people familiar with Apple’s plans said the Cupertino, Calif., company doesn’t currently plan to make its first electric vehicle fully autonomous. That capability is part of the product’s long-term plans, the people familiar with the matter said.
The Titan electric car project has been in development for several years now, initially given the greenlight by Tim Cook in somewhere around two years ago. A crack team of auto engineers was assembled to begin looking into the feasibility of such an endeavor, though rumors persist that the company is working with BMW and using the i3 as a starting point for this car.
Further work was done under a shell company called “SixtyEight” operating out of Sunnyvale. It’s likely that company is now the home of several electric car battery engineers that Apple poached from A123 systems last year, along with many Tesla employees who jumped ship to work on something more exciting, launching a war between the two possible rivals.
Recently the company started investigating potential test tracks, focusing on one used by many self-driving car makers, indicating that Apple may be nearing the testing stage for a first prototype.
Apple’s commitment is a sign that the company sees an opportunity to become a player in the automotive industry by applying expertise that it has honed in developing iPhones—in areas such as batteries, sensors and hardware-software integration—to the next generation of cars.