A new secret division at Apple is said to be working on designing a car

The rumors about Apple building a car won’t be going away anytime soon. For the third time in as many days, we’re hearing that more sources claim the Cupertino-based tech giant has designs on the auto industry.

Apple Car Rumor Reaffirmed Again — But It's Top Secret

And in order to build its car, Apple is apparently not only stealing employees from Tesla Motors but also from other luxury automakers, including Mercedes-Benz.

Apple building a top secret car

Tim Bradshaw of the Financial Times reports that Apple has been recruiting automotive experts to work in its “new top-secret research lab.” (Are there really any secrets in Silicon Valley? Really?) He cites several sources who are familiar with the copmany.

According to Bradshaw’s sources, managers from Apple’s iPhone division are heading up the secret lab, in which employees are reportedly researching products for the automotive industry. The sources also said Sir Jony Ive’s design team has been meeting regularly with executives from automotive companies in the last several months.

At some of those meetings, Apple management has attempted to hire some of the executives. One executive who did defect to Apple is the former chief of Mercedes-Benz’s research and development team, which is located in Silicon Valley.

Apple car could be years away

Bradshaw reports that Apple just started putting together the secret automotive lab in the fall around the time it unveiled the Apple Watch, the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus. As a result, he states it’s possible that anything which comes out of the secret division could be years away from landing on the market.

Apple already offers its own infotainment system for cars, which is CarPlay. So it’s always possible that the secret lab is focused on advancing that platform. However, Bradshaw’s sources claim that the backgrounds and work experience of the automotive experts Apple has been hiring suggest that the company could indeed be working on an actual car. Among the company’s hires are engineers who specialize in vehicle dynamics and automotive designers.

Indeed building its own car may be a logical next step for Apple, which counts Google among its competitors. Google has been working on a self-driving car for quite some time, so why shouldn’t Apple work on a car too? Also Tesla’s recent integration of controls for the Model S into the Apple Watch demonstrate how Apple could build a car as a natural extension of its iOS ecosystem.

As of this writing, shares of Apple were down 0.35% at $126.02 per share.