The new lab appears to be looking into building on CarPlay by building a car, according to reports
More evidence has emerged that Apple is investigating making an automobile, with the company reportedly hiring experts in vehicle design and meeting with contract automobile manufacturers.
Reports over the weekend specified that the company is looking at making an electric car, bringing it into direct competition with Elon Musk’s Tesla, as well as more established auto makers.
The project is code-named Titan and is led by Steve Zadesky, vice president of iPhone product design, according to The Telegraph, which cited unnamed people familiar with the matter.
A “few hundred” employees have been assigned to the operation, and the current design for the product resembles a minivan, according to The Wall Street Journal. Various reports said Apple executives, including Zadezky, fly to Austria regularly in relation to the project. Austria is home to Magna Steyr, the world’s largest contract auto maker.
The project appears to have gained momentum in the past three months, with Apple reportedly setting up a secret Silicon Valley lab outside its campus to research the project late last year.
Apple already works with automakers on building its CarPlay software into their vehicles, and the new lab may only be working on a more advanced software platform for cars, although the types of experts being hired and their seniority indicates research on an automobile, reports said.
The company has long investigated a broad range of areas, some of which never become products, and has considered making a car for years, according to executives.
Apple senior vice president of marketing Phil Schiller said in 2012 court testimony that executives discussed building a car even before the 2007 release of the iPhone, while Apple board member Mickey Drexler, who is also head of J Crew Group, said in the same year that Steve Jobs had wanted to build a car.
Apple has recently been trying to poach employees from Tesla, offering signing bonuses of $250,000 and salary increases of 60 percent, but has only succeeded in signing on a few people so far, Tesla chief executive Elon Musk said recently.
Recent recruits to the Titan project include the head of Mercedes-Benz’s Silicon Valley research unit, according to the Financial Times.
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