Even though Tesla founder Elon Musk has called the Apple car an “open secret,” Tim Cook remains non-committal about the prospect of an Apple-made car. In an exclusive interview with Fortune, the Apple CEO indicated that hiring does not necessarily mean that a project is a sure thing. Since last year, Apple has hired more than 1,000 auto engineers and executives with vast experience across all aspects of car development. The company also has a secret automotive testing facility in Sunnyvale.
Cook tiptoes around Apple car questions
During the interview, Tim Cook did not deny the rumors. When asked about the possibility of an Apple car he said, “So I can’t talk about this certain area you are talking about.” He added that the iPhone maker explores multiple things with teams of people. The company is always thinking about ways to make products that people would love. All that is just part of being curious.
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Cook was a little more forthcoming when Adam Lashinsky of Fortune asked him whether Apple would spend gobs of money on a project if it had no plans to commercialize it. With more than $200 billion in cash reserves, Apple can afford to spend large amounts on any project it wants. But Cook said, “We don’t have to spend large amounts to explore.” But if the company is spending a lot of money on a project, that means it is seriously committed, he added.
Contract manufacturing the future of auto industry
It could be an indirect confirmation that the company is serious about Apple car. You don’t hire 2,000 people and set-up multiple car-related facilities including a testing center in Sunnyvale just because you are “curious” about it. The Apple CEO envisioned a future where manufacturers would make “an automobile on a contract basis for someone else.”
Apple is reportedly building an electric vehicle with autonomous driving capabilities. Last year, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Cupertino-based tech giant had changed the car to “committed” status with a target shipping date of 2019.