Apple is “committed” to having an electric vehicle on the road in the next few years, according to a new report.
The Wall Street Journal (paywall) is reporting that Apple has internally labeled their electric car effort a “committed project” and is looking at shipping the first fleet of vehicles in 2019. In order to expedite the project, codenamed Titan, Apple is growing the team working on the electric car by threefold, to about 1,800 employees. The rumored iCar will reportedly combine Apple’s expertise in design, batteries, sensor technology and hardware-software integration.
Apple execs gave the project the green light after spending more than a year researching the feasibility of an electric Apple-branded vehicle. Last year Apple CEO Tim Cook toured the BMW facilities in Europe, and Apple execs met with two government groups in California. It remains unclear whether Apple will outsource the manufacturing of its iCars, as it does with iPhone manufacturing. Most auto-makers own and operate their own car factories.
Although Apple has recently hired a team of experts to work on driverless technology, met with the DMV to review autonomous vehicle regulations and scoped out testing facilities, the WSJ report claims that Apple’s first electric car won’t be fully autonomous by 2019. Apple’s driverless vehicle fleet, according to the report, is a longer-term plan for the Cupertino-based company. Last week, talk show host Stephen Colbert asked Cook about Apple building a driverless car.
”We look at a number of things along the way, and we decide to really put our energies into a few of those,” Cook replied. Considering the mounting evidence, we can only assume that a car is one of those few things along the way that Apple has decided to really put its energies into.
The impact on you: Should you start saving your money for an electric iCar? Perhaps not. Despite Apple hitting the gas pedal on building a car, many internal sources are skeptical about the 2019 ship date. It’s an ambitious project, especially for a company with zero car-making experience besides the CarPlay infotainment software. Even if Apple gets a prototype fully designed and operable, it could still take time for it to pass certain road and safety regulations. The WSJ notes that it wouldn’t be unheard-of for this project to miss its 2019 ship date.
This story, "Report: Apple’s electric car to hit the road in 2019 but it won't be driverless" was originally published by Macworld.