Apple’s Electric Car Project: What to Expect in the Future

Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images
Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

Could Apple, known for so many gadgets and gizmos, have its sights set on the automotive industry?

Reports are indicating that Apple is serious about putting out its own high-tech electric car as early as 2019. Right now, a lot of these online rumors are citing a Wall Street Journal story about the project, code-named Project Titan.

An article from InformationWeek indicates that Apple already has a development staff of over 600 working on Project Titan, and that the company is going so far as to attract top talent from startup companies like Tesla Motors and other carmakers like Fiat-Chrysler (Jamie Carlson and Doug Betts are two names that come up as examples of this). In the end, these are pretty substantive indications that Apple’s investing a lot in this scheme. It wouldn’t be the first time the company has had the idea, although as mentioned in a piece in The Verge, it’s probably a good thing for Apple that Jobs and crew didn’t put their toes into those waters back in 2008.

We’re also able to get some ideas about what an Apple car might be able to do. Whatever it’s going to be, it’s got to be something good. After all, these are the people who brought us the Macintosh Classic, the MacBook, the iPod, the iPad, and the iPhone, all high-tech, impressive specimens in their respective markets.

You might assume that a car made by a computer company would be completely autonomous or self-driving. However, the InformationWeek story (among others) suggests that Apple is not going to go all-in with self-driving technology while working on Titan. Experts cite the high regulatory burden of developing the self-driving car and barriers to its entry into today’s market, a topic that we reported on previously.

Apple CarPlay dashboard
Source: Apple

We also have some clues as to what a new Apple vehicle might look like when it’s finally unveiled to audiences a few years from now — at least, what the car will be based upon.

An International Business Times story contends that Apple has been talking to BMW about using that company’s i3 electric platform — detailing a visit by CEO Tim Cook to the i3 production line in Leipzig, Germany.

One attractive feature of the BMW i3 is its carbon-fiber reinforced-plastic frame, a platform developed in-house by BMW to employ the latest in lightweight composites to counter the inherent heavy weight of the battery packs.

Some industry folks also see Apple’s move as more than just a stand-alone gesture. Casting the electric car market as a rapidly evolving one, these scryers see Project Titan and others like it leading to a kind of “battle royale” between classic car makers and other new contenders.

Bloomberg Business, which forecast’s Apple’s go-to-market point as 2020, also talks about plans by both General Motors and Tesla to release capable electric cars for under $40,000 by 2017.

“That’s the inflection point — the proving ground — that brings on the electric age,” says Steve LeVine, author of a book about the automotive battery industry, as quoted in the Bloomberg piece. “Now you have Apple coming in and this is critical mass. Was GM really going to be able to match Tesla? Apple can.”

Whether or not Project Titan launches an all-out war for electric car supremacy, company fans will want to keep tuning in as more details emerge about this mysterious initiative.

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Like classics? It’s always Throwback Thursday somewhere.