February 17, 2015
New details have surfaced suggesting that Apple’s latest innovation may emerge in the auto industry. According to inside sources, a team of several hundred Apple employees, led by former Ford engineer and Apple product design VP Steve Zadesky, has been developing an electric car under the project code name “Titan” for about a year now. While Apple has yet to confirm the project, the company’s recent hiring of experienced auto executives suggests there might be truth to these rumors.
According to The Wall Street Journal, “Apple executives have flown to Austria to meet with contract manufacturers for high-end cars including the Magna Steyr unit of Canadian auto supplier Magna International.” These meetings indicate that Apple is at the very least interested in the auto manufacturing process.
In recent years, Apple has made key hires of former auto execs to help shape the company’s industrial design team. For instance, WSJ reports that Apple hired notable industrial designer Marc Newson, who once developed a concept car for Ford.
In addition, Apple recently welcomed Jonathan Jungwirth, former president and chief exec of Mercedes-Benz Research and Development North America.
Another one of WSJ’s sources said, “Apple hopes to put its stamp on the electric vehicle market in the same way it did the smartphone with its iPhone.” If the rumors are true, Apple could become new competition for Tesla or even Google, which has been working on a self-driving car for some time now.
While very little is known about Apple’s “Titan” project, some sources have said the car’s design will be inspired by the minivan. The barriers to entry for the automobile industry are significantly high especially when considering capital, design and manufacturing costs.
Upsetting the Apple Car: The Established Carmakers, Not Tech Firms, Will Win the Race to Build the Vehicles of the Future, The Economist, 2/21/15