Project code-named 'Titan'

Report: Apple might challenge Tesla with an electric minivan

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Hundreds of Apple employees are working on an electric car that resembles a minivan, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. It’s possible the car will never make it to market, but the WSJ’s sources said the company has been meeting with manufacturers in Austria.

Apple CEO Tim Cook gave the car project, known as “Titan,” the go-ahead a year ago, according to the report. The team, which may grow to 1,000 people and has Apple vice president and former Ford engineer Steve Zadesky at its helm, is researching robotics, metals and materials. Apple has also hired Mercedes-Benz Research and Development North America lead Johann Jungwirth and industrial designer Marc Newson since the department’s formation.

The report indicated it will be several years before the car is completed and certified, and the minivan design is only the current iteration. The car’s battery and other electronics could also find their way into other Apple products.

Unlike Google’s car, Apple’s vehicle would not be self driving, the WSJ’s sources said.

8 Responses to “Report: Apple might challenge Tesla with an electric minivan”

  1. Nicholas Paredes

    Apple worked with Moto and was unhappy with the results and limitations. Apple worked with auto companies. Who exactly is happy with in-car electronics? As with mobile in 2007, the auto industry is saddled with legacy issues. Is anybody using Michelin’s powered wheels? The industry is ripe for disruption. Rumors aside, would Apple make a better car?

    • exhibit44

      Powered wheels are great. No transmission or drivetrain, just a wire. No onboard motor. Suspension is still an issue, but micro-control of wheels individually and in tandem will change how suspension works anyway.

  2. This is the most brain-dead Apple rumor article I’ve read in a long time. And I’ve read some doozies that of course never panned out, like Gene Muenster’s demands-turned-into-can’t-miss-rumors-that-missed-badly. Let me get this right: Apple is going to compete against Tesla’s sexy sports sedan with an electric family van. Think about that for a second. Does that make any sense? It’s Clark Griswold in the Wagon Queen Family Truckster vs. Tony Stark.

    Yup. That’s a sure thing if ever I heard one.

    Oh, and the Apple Wagon Queen Family Truckster will be self-driving too!!

    Did it ever occur to anyone that the vans spotted on the road could simply be part of a street level mapping project? Or that Apple could be working not on a car per se, but on improving the driving interface instead of veering the company from its true mission and entering car manufacturing? Its implausibility borders on the ridiculous.

    So I will start an idiotic rumor on my own: Apple is building a flying car. Like Agent Coulsen’s beloved “Lola” Corvette convertible. Are you with me on this one? Please, let’s get this idiotic rumor going! It takes so little to get Henry Blodgett and Business Insider to run with a completely nonsensical BS click-whoring rumor about Apple, yet it means so much. Won’t you help?

  3. Michael W. Perry

    Not good. Two companies fighting over the same small slice of the auto market may mean that neither succeeds. That’s coming on top of what $2 a gallon gasoline is likely to do to the sales of electric cars.

    Nor will the Apple and Tesla benefit if by chance the market does take off. Mercedes, Porsche, and other luxury car makers have excellent engineers. They will quickly take over the high end of a growing market. Toyota, Honda, Ford and Chevy will take over what remains. The only real hope for upstarts such as Apple and Tesla is that this market remains a niche.

    Finally, keep in mind that Apple gave up most of its manufacturing years ago, outsourcing it to countries such as China. Lacking experience, Apple will be forced to outsource manufacturing. It will teach the Chinese how to make these cars, who will then undersell it.

    Perhaps Apple’s executives should look up the meaning of “let the cobbler stick to his last.”

  4. Apple can’t even design a phone without major defects and on the software side despite running only on their own hardware and being heavily cut down, their OS is less stable than Android so it might get funny (and very unsafe) if they try to make a car.

    • exhibit44

      A lot of the Tesla was outsourced, so one imagines that Apple will hire out the work they aren’t expert in, after all they have billions in cash sitting around. A number of important companies like Delphi and Johnson Controls would love part of the work on brakes, safety systems, etc. The Big Three sold off their black-box makers years ago, so if Apple used Delphi, for example, they would actually be using GM legacy.