Apple Inc. is accelerating efforts to build an electric car, designating it internally as a “committed project” and setting a target ship date for 2019, according to people familiar with the
The go-ahead came after the company spent more than a year investigating the feasibility of an Apple-branded car, including meetings with two groups of government officials in California. Leaders of the project, code-named Titan, have been given permission to triple the 600-person team, the people familiar with the matter said.
Apple AAPL, has hired experts in driverless cars, but the people familiar with Apple’s plans said the Cupertino, Calif., company doesn’t currently plan to make its first electric vehicle fully autonomous. That capability is part of the product’s long-term plans, the people familiar with the matter said.
Project Titan — responsible for the design and development of the car — is reportedly about to triple its manpower to 1,800 people. This comes after the addition of numerous car industry veterans to the Titan team, including Jamie Carlson, who was previously a senior engineer at Tesla.
Although Apple has hired driverless car experts too, the electric car that will be released in 2019 is not expected to be autonomous. But we can expect it to reflect Apple’s extensive research into batteries, sensors and design. Apple is yet to speak publicly about the car, which could resemble a minivan, according to initial reports on the design
The car will join a range of new electric cars that are likely to be on the market by 2019. The competition will be more than just Tesla, Nissan and Toyota, who currently produce well-known electric cars. In March Richard Branson announced Virgin had “teams of people” working on electric cars. Other companies have also been developing electric versions of popular cars, including Porsche, Audi and Chevrolet.
Apple’s foray into the car industry is nothing new. Last year it launched CarPlay, an iPhone interface that is available in BMW, Ford and Honda cars, among others.
But while the addition of Apple and Google to the car industry will drive innovation, car companies are also worried about being left behind.
“It’s exactly what the industry needed: a disruptive interloper,” Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat Chrysler told Bloomberg in March. “It’s a good thing, but when you are one of the guys whose life is being disrupted then you’re not necessarily looking forward to the event.”