If the Latest Apple Rumor Is True, an Electric Car-Dominated Future May Not Be Far Off

February 15, 2015 Updated: February 15, 2015

The news that Apple is seriously exploring getting into the electric car market has analysts arguing, despite quite a bit of supporting evidence, over whether the Cupertino-Calif-based company’s latest secret project is plausible or not.

More than a few have a hard time believing Apple’s latest rumor could be true. Writing for Forbes, Menlo Park, Calif.-based technology researcher Chuck Jones says it sounds like an autos play is afoot, but it could be something related to Apple’s Maps app, or its integrated software system for cars CarPlay.

Tesla Motors Inc., which has an estimated 5 to 15 percent of the high-end luxury car market, and would be Apple’s largest competitor, has been at it for 10 years, but still isn’t profitable, another investor argues. Why get into the game now when it is as yet unproven? 

There are reportedly several hundred people working for Apple on the electric car project, codenamed Titan, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources. Apple executives reportedly flew to Austria to meet with manufacturers of high-end cars.

The persons quoted suggested the initial design resembles a minivan, and that Apple hopes to put its stamp on the electric vehicle market in the same way it did with the smartphone.

Apple declined to comment in response to the WSJ sources comments.

Autos Are Hot

While it cannot be confirmed that Apple is indeed going for its own car, the tech world cannot seem to get enough of autos plays these days. In early February Uber said it was setting up a research partnership with Carnegie Mellon University to look at self-driving cars. At least seven companies are in that market, with Google the obvious leader, already testing on California roads. 

Regardless of the exact details, it is very likely that Apple does not want to be left out of a future where climate change policies could drive an era of renewable energy that would naturally favor electric cars.

The tech company has a few things going for it: a vast supply chain, a substantial history of research in batteries, and a software vehicle console system known as CarPlay that it has already introduced into the market that runs in an integrated fashion its proprietary iTunes, mapping, and messaging apps. 

Along with the company’s $180 billion cash holdings to support the endeavor, adding Apple’s proven tech genius to the electric car innovation stream could potentially speed up the path to widespread market adoption of the new technology.

Trust is an important factor for adoption of something new, and Apple’s got that. If the company that excels for it user-friendly and rock-solid designs in the area of computers, tablets, and smartphones could really bring an electric car to the market, consumers would be very likely to buy it, especially if the company could get the price in the right range.

Tesla is the leader in the purely electric car area right now, and Cathie Wood, founder and CIO of ARK Investment Management, believes that Apple and Tesla have a lot in common.

Apple is “fanatical about design, as is Tesla,” she said, according to Benzinga.

And both companies have hired each other’s staff.

Tesla has hired around 150 former Apple employees—and according to Tesla CEO Elon Musk, speaking to Bloomberg, Apple has offered $250,000 signing bonuses and a 60 percent salary increase for Tesla employees.

You never know what could be around the next bend in innovation, especially from a company like Apple.


*Image of electric car via Shutterstock