Is Apple Building a Car?

Speculation in the many news reports I’ve read suggest that Apple has been taking on a lot of new engineers to help the company develop an automotive related product – codenamed ‘project Titan’ – giving these engineers a healthy $250k sign-on bonus and offering them huge salary increases to come on board. There’s also been accounts stating that the multi-billion-dollar Cupertino-based company has poached 150 employees that used to work at Tesla while another account, in Bloomberg’s Business News, cites the reverse.

More recently, it’s come to light that Apple is being sued by former battery developer A123 Systems for stealing its employees. A123 Systems, later renamed B456 (you can’t make this stuff up), is the same company that supplied batteries to Fisker Automotive. It’s bankruptcy filing was claimed to be one of the leading factors in the trickle down demise of Henrik Fisker’s company.

Tesla Model X sketch

The idea of an Apple car’s been kicking around for a long time; in fact it goes so far back that I can’t even remember when it first started. It’s been reported that Steve Jobs had his heart set on creating an iCar and, had he lived, it may well be rolling around the streets today. But getting into the car business isn’t something you do overnight. And even an insanely lucrative company like Apple can’t just dive in headfirst and emerge with a viable product on the other end of the pool.

In May of last year, an article on Forbes suggested that Apple should “think big” and just buy Tesla. The author claimed that both companies are in the “technology disruption business” and, “with equal genius power in design” would make ideal bedfellows as they jointly tackled the technology business in the home and on the road.

As Apple has more money than it knows what to do with, the acquisition of a small start-up still in the red would make good financial sense; it’s better than giving the money back to shareholders and would save Apple paying taxes. Another publication goes as far as to predict that Apple may just go ahead and buy Tesla outright in just 18 months.

A few weeks ago, an article on Reuters stated that Apple was in fact looking to build an autonomous car and others posit that the Apple car will be a minivan, with Quartz showing a photo of an ancient Pontiac concept from the late 80s as its lead image. But the fact that Apple has been seen testing autonomous technology using a Chrysler minivan shouldn’t seal the deal on this one. Mercedes’ F 015 concept is autonomous, and while it’s a one-box vehicle it isn’t a minivan.


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