Steve Jobs once dreamed of an Apple car and that is hardly a secret. The fact that Apple is working on an electric car with the hopes of rivaling Tesla is also not a secret. However, any details on Apple’s progress remains, potential delivery dates, or for that matter anything has remained a mystery and likely will until Apple one day simply unveils one.
Apple car rumors began in earnest last year
In 2015, Business Insider claims (I’m not saying they didn’t) to have spoken with an Apple employee who is familiar with the project which the media has since dubbed “Project Titan.” In that same interview, the unnamed employee said that Apple has hundreds of people working on the “iCar” in Sunnyvale, California.
While Apple hasn’t spoken about the project at all that hasn’t stopped Elon Musk from talking about the project openly. Musk famously called “Project Titan an “open secret.” While the employee that Business Insider spoke with said “hundreds,” Musk put that number considerably higher.
“It’s pretty hard to hide something if you hire over a thousand engineers to do it,” the real-life Tony Stark said.
“I’d think there will be volume production no sooner than 2020,” he said about his potential rivals while pointing out that the company’s late start was nothing less than a “missed opportunity.”
Tim Cook goes the opposite route
Carrying on from what learned from Steve Jobs, Apple CEO Tim Cook has remained mum on the subject while making it clear that Apple is working on the project. Cook has been more than happy to share his sexual orientation with the public but about Apple has planned he sticks with the status quo in interviews.
“I don’t have anything to announce about our plans. But I think there’s some significant changes in the automobile industry over the next several years with electrification and autonomous driving. And there’s a need for a focus on user interface. And so I think there’s a lot of changes that will go on there.”
In a separate interview, when asked about Apple’s work on a car, Cook simply went with, “Yeah, I’m probably not going to do that.”
Cook also knows he’s playing around, and we know it as well. It’s a bit reminiscent of the older child who knows there is no Santa Clause (spoiler alert) but has to play along for the sake of his younger siblings. In this case, the younger siblings are Apple shareholders who were told regarding the Apple Car:
“Do you remember when you were a kid, and Christmas Eve it was so exciting, you weren’t sure what was going to be downstairs? Well, it’s going to be Christmas Eve for a while.”
Rumors and more rumors
For a well-kept secret, everyone seems to know quite a bit about Project Titan with a number of outlets reporting that Apple’s $10 billion in research and development suggests something big is on the horizon and it’s about the size of a car.
Others are welcoming Apple’s move into the electronic car space with Don Butler, Executive Director of Ford Connected Vehicles, saying, “We welcome others joining. We welcome the activity that’s in the space. We think it’s exciting. It’s actually changed that we are embracing. So I think Apple can do it. I think Google can do it.”
Apple’s recent hire of Doug Betts, whom has done little in his career outside of his 25 plus years with Toyota and Nissan, just adds to the fact that Apple is working on a car. Add to that the fact that Apple has purchase a huge piece of land in California that dwarfs the yet to open spaceship and Apple isn’t fooling anyone. End of the day, Steve jobs spoke about Apple and its interest in cars as early as 2008 and, well, that is what he spoke of and had his fingers on the purse strings when he said it.
This is not a matter of if but when. The Guardian has reported that Apple has taken the lease on a naval base that dates to World War II and has even gone so far as installing anti-drone technology on the site to keep its well-known secret a secret. Supply chain rumors will surely tell us when Apple fancies actually mass-producing its “iCar.” There is little danger of it going unnoticed as Musk said with Apple’s hiring of thousands of engineers. But, as always, don’t expect to hear a word from Apple until it’s good and ready.