Tech lovers saving up for an Apple Watch and a new iPhone just might want to start socking away a bit more cash, as a new report says that Apple is thinking about revolutionizing yet another industry. That’s right: an Apple Car might be on the way in the coming years.
Apple’s unending quest to get its minimalist logo on everything you have around you continues, as the Wall Street Journal said in a report on Friday that the tech giant is working on a massive new initiative aimed at producing an electric car. The move would bring Apple into competition with Tesla Motors, specifically, but also with the much larger automotive industry, which was expected to move 72.2 million vehicles worldwide in 2014.
According to the new report, Apple has “several hundred employees working secretly” on the project. Initial designs for the Apple Car, code-named “Titan,” show a minivan-like vehicle, though Apple could well produce a wide range of vehicles if it does enter the automotive segment.
The team behind Titan already numbers in the hundreds, and Apple product design vice president Steve Zadesky is reportedly heading it up. Zadesky was reportedly given permission to create a 1,000-person team to work on the project, and the executive has permission to bring in employees from all over Apple in order to work on it. The team is said to be looking into “different types of robotics, metals, and materials consistent with automobile manufacturing.”
Also pointing to the possibility that Apple is looking to produce an Apple Car is the fact that Apple last year brought on industrial design guru Marc Newson. Newson, a close friend of Apple design chief Jony Ive, has previously designed concept cars for Ford. Newson’s Ford 012C concept has just the sort of minimalist aesthetic consumers have come to expect from Apple, though it is unlikely that any potential Apple Car would look exactly like what Newson produced in 1999.
Apple has reportedly met with executives for contract manufacturers that produce high-end cars like the Magna Steyr unit of Canada’s Magna International. That move seems to indicate that Apple is not interested in maintaining its own auto manufacturing infrastructure, instead relying on outsourced labor to make an Apple Car, as Apple already does with its iPad, iPhone, and Mac line of computers.
The WSJ report notes that it is often prohibitively expensive for new players to enter the auto industry, as the production of a manufacturing facility can cost well over $1 billion and requires a massive supply chain for the more than 10,000 components that go into making a car. For Apple, though, $1 billion is barely pocket change, as the tech giant already has more than $178 billion in cash as of December, 2014.
As with just about anything else that Apple hasn’t officially announced yet, the rumored Apple Car isn’t guaranteed to materialize until Apple CEO Tim Cook takes the stage and shows it off. This rumor, though, seems to have a bit more going for it than other Apple rumors.
For a while now, reports have circulated that a mysterious vehicle has been seen driving along roads in California. A check of the vehicle’s license plate shows that it is registered to Apple, Inc., and the vehicle has a number of cameras on it, making observers believe that it might be either a self-driving vehicle or some sort of mapping vehicle.
If Apple is indeed looking at entering the automotive sector, it would be indicative of a larger push by the company to diversify its offerings. Apple just came off of the most profitable quarter in corporate history, selling a record amount of iPhones. Investors, though, want assurance that Apple isn’t going to rest on its laurels. To that end, Apple is preparing to launch the Apple Watch in the coming months, and rumors continue to circulate that Apple is prepping an Apple-branded television. Now, it appears, tech observers can add an Apple-branded electric car to the list of things to drool over.
[Lead image via Marc Newson]