Apple plans to start producing electric cars as soon as 2020, according to a new report by Bloomberg.
It’s just the latest in a recent string of reports about Apple’s plans to enter the automotive industry.
What seemed like a crazy rumor a couple weeks ago, when an Apple employee first emailed Business Insider about it, has now been confirmed by multiple news outlets.
Bloomberg says that Apple has 200 people working on the project, which matches earlier reports that say “hundreds” of people are on the team. Apple may also scrap the project if it’s not working, as the company has done with other secret projects.
The project is being led by Steve Zadesky, who ran iPhone and iPod development at the company and started his career as an engineer at Ford.
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Apple poaching lawsuit ‘proof’ US tech giant is developing electric car
Apple has been sued by developers of an advanced automotive car battery for allegedly poaching key employees, providing evidence that the US tech giant is working on an electric vehicle.
The lawsuit, filed in Massachusetts by A123 Systems, claims 5 employees were recruited by Apple in violation of a non-compete clause in their contracts.
The complaints allege that Apple “tortiously interfered” with those agreements by “poaching” employees.
A123 is a subsidiary of Chinese car parts giant Wanxiang Group, which invested in the Massachusetts firm in 2013.
Apple did not respond to a query on the lawsuit and has not commented on reports in recent days that it was developing its own electric car.
The Wall Street Journal reported Apple had hired hundreds of people for the project – code-named “Titan” – which could be a car that incorporated some of the technology used on iPhones and iPads.
Bloomberg said production of an electric car could begin as soon as 2020.
The move, according to the Journal, would allow California-based Apple to expand its product offerings over the long term to reduce its dependence on phones and tablets.
This month, Apple became the first company to be valued at over US$700 billion after recently posting an unprecedented US$18 billion in quarterly profits.
Wamsi Mohan, analyst at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, said he viewed an “iCar” as unlikely, but suggested that Apple might be working on an improved technology platform for connected vehicles.
In a note to clients, Mohan said of the Apple car speculation: “There is no clear technology adjacency to existing products.” He also noted that “the margins and returns are significantly lower than existing products”.
Mohan added that Apple “largely operates an outsourced manufacturing model that does not exist for automobiles“.
On the other hand, the analyst said that Apple could introduce “an operating system for the car that connects all the electronics/infotainment sub-system and sensors”.
Ben Reitzes, of Barclays, said the Apple effort “makes sense to us down the road, given the car is becoming a natural extension of the connected home and mobile ecosystem.”