Is Apple Building a Car?
An iCar could be in our future. The latest news coming from Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California, is the rumor that Apple is working on its own electric car. That’s right – not a new iPad or even an eagerly anticipated iWatch, but an actual car! It could join Tesla and Nissan on the roads of the future. Or so we would hope.
The report of Apple’s new endeavor is just a rumor still. While reliable sources from inside the company confirm that a big group is working on a new project, code-named “Titan”, it may not actually result in a car somewhere down the line.
Several clues point towards the project having something to do with the automotive world. Two high-profile recent hires joined Apple from automotive companies: Marc Newson, an industrial designer and engineer from Ford, and Johann Jungwirth, an executive from Mercedes-Benz. Both of them went on to work in the “Titan” group and also received permission to poach people from Apple’s other departments. The group already includes almost a thousand Apple employees, which is enough to signify that Project Titan is a serious matter.
Why Titan? That does not sound as something car-related, right? It, however, sounds like a next big thing is in the works for Apple. An electric car is not such a stretch as it may seem. Apple certainly won’t be the first to try its hand on one. Google has been working on a car prototype of its own – a self-driving car. Apple has revolutionized the digital music industry, and we have them to thank for iPods and iTunes. When Apple – a computer manufacturer – announced it would enter the smartphone market, the world sneered. And yet, here is the iPhone, setting sales records and making Apple billions of dollars. Apple has no way to go but up, and an electric car may be a challenge enough for it to be viable.
However, car industry is notoriously complex and cost-intensive: any company entering the car market in the U.S. needs every billion it can spare to have a shot at success. Car factories alone cost millions of dollars to buy and many more to redesign to suit one’s needs (Tesla purchased one for $42 million and spent several HUNDRED more to refurbish it). Apple certainly has cash to make it happen: the company’s current cash fund is reportedly $178 billion, seven times more that of General Motors. But should it? And will it?
Project Titan, while most assuredly having something to do with cars, may not go as far as having a whole car as its goal. Apple may be working on improving its Car Play software which it currently provides to several car manufactures. Car Play gives the driver access to iTunes, Maps, and more, but Apple could be aiming to make the user experience smoother and more inclusive. This would certainly explain the sightings of a strange-looking car on the Cupertino campus. It cannot possibly be a prototype this early in the game, but a software tester – very likely!