Apple’s Electric-Car Project, Titan, Gets Greenlight for 2019

Apple greenlit its early stage work on an electric car, changing its status internally to a committed project dubbed Titan, say insiders, with a target release date for 2019. The company has decided that its expertise in batteries, sensors and hardware-software integration — honed by developing the iPhone — can serve as a sufficient foundation for developing a car. During the year Apple researched the feasibility of its own electric car, company executives met with two groups of government officials in California.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple has given the go-ahead to triple the existing 600-member team and has already hired “experts in driverless cars.” The company has also decided that the first Apple-branded electric car will not be entirely autonomous, although that capability is part of the long-term plan. Earlier in 2015, WSJ reported that the Apple-branded car’s initial design resembled a minivan.

apple28The unanswered questions regarding Titan, however, are many. Unknown is whether Apple has a manufacturing partner in its car endeavor, similar to its partnership with Taiwanese manufacturer Hon Hai Precision Industry (also known as Foxconn), which builds most of its iPhones.

“Most major auto makers build and run their own factories, but that hasn’t been Apple’s strategy with iPhones or iPads,” notes WSJ. “Contract manufacturing in the auto industry usually is limited to a few niche models.”

The target ship date is also ambitious, says WSJ. “Once Apple completes its designs and prototypes, a vehicle would still need to undergo a litany of tests before it could clear regulatory hurdles.”

Apparently Apple insiders say that, “there is skepticism within the team that the 2019 target is achievable.” Although demand for electric cars is currently weak, notes WSJ, tightening emission standards could drive major car manufacturers to invest billions, creating tremendous competition for Apple.

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