All signs point to the fact that Apple is working on a car, and over the last year there’s been plenty of speculation about what that could mean.
During the C3 Connected Mobility Summit in San Francisco, a panel of experts linked all the recent rumors together to try to decipher Apple’s plan for disrupting the auto industry. This year alone, rumors surrounding the Apple car, codenamed Project Titan, surfaced as follows: Apple has filed permits to build a “auto work area” near Cupertino, leased a super-secret testing facility, and met with the California DMV. There’s even speculation that Apple has created not one, but two shell companies to disguise its car-building operations. And then there’s the coolest rumor of them all: that Apple will be making smart windshields.
The rumors—coupled with news that Apple has hired a bunch of experts in electric batteries, A.I., and automotive—help paint a better picture as to what we can expect to come out of Project Titan. Who knows? We might even get to see it sooner than 2019, the year when the Apple Car is rumored to hit the road.
Short-lived partnerships lead to solo projects
From poaching industry executives to partnering with other companies, Apple’s not-so-secret moves closely resemble the company’s launch of the iPhone and the Apple Watch, according to the panel moderated by C3 Group CEO Dave Robinson.
“Apple has a history of partnering with another company in another industry, learning a few lessons, and launching its own product,” said panelist John Suh, executive director of Hyundai Ventures. Suh was referring to the short-lived partnership between Apple and Motorola that led to the 2005 Rokr phone with iTunes built in.
“Apple has a history of partnering with another company in another industry, learning a few lessons, and launching its own product.”
Even though the Rokr was a total failure, Suh said that Apple learned a lot about the mobile phone industry from partnering with Motorola, enough to launch the jaw-dropping iPhone just two years later.
Similarly, it’s been widely reported that Apple and BMW were in talks to collaborate on an electric car. Apple CEO Tim Cook toured the BMW headquarters in 2014; however, talks of a partnership have fizzled and it seems like Apple is doing a car solo.
Who they are hiring—and why
The Apple hiring spree for Project Titan kicked off back in February. Even the early hires suggested back then that Apple was interested in more than just powering the CarPlay dashboard software. Throughout the year, Apple has brought on executives from Tesla, Chrysler, Nvidia, and advanced battery-maker A123 Systems (currently suing Apple for poaching employees).
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