Wall Street Journal Reports Apple Developing a Car

What do you do if you have $180 billion in cash? If you're Apple, you develop a car. A number of reports in recent days have said that Apple is working on a design for an electric car and that it's expected to have self-driving features.

Tim Cook has promised new product categories and an iCar would certainly fill the bill. But we all know Apple has developed many products that they never brought to market. The Wall Street Journal reported last Friday that Apple set up a lab late last year to work on an Apple-branded electric car. The project is code-named Titan and already has several hundred employees working on it. And apparently Apple has already met with manufacturers who could potentially make the car. The day after the WSJ news story created buzz, Reuters reported that Apple is working on a car that would have self-driving features. Plus, the report said that Apple isn't just looking into designing software or components for a car — they themselves want to make the car. Right now Apple is focused on gathering information, in particular on car parts and production methods, as well as technologies related to connected cars and electric cars.

Does it make sense? Some point out that Apple's whole focus has been to improve the man-machine interface, to make technology that's friendlier and lovable. That hardly describes cars. There's huge room for improvement in terms of design and simplicity, as well as efficiency and safety. Apple has also reportedly been hiring engineers. The Financial Times reported last Friday that Apple had poached the head of Mercedes-Benz's Silicon Valley R&D lab. According to the WSJ article, last year Apple hired Marc Newson, a well-known industrial designer who has previously created a concept car for Ford. His design, which accompanies this post and was exhibited in 1999, could offer a hint of what we might see from Apple. Read more on Time.

If Apple does indeed develop a car, it'll be several years before you'll be able to purchase one. And it will likely be expensive.

An article on Macworld does a great job of characterizing what would make an iCar different:

Imagine a car that not only recognizes who’s driving, but also where they’re going, what they need to do when they get there, and what they want to listen to along the way. With the iPhone and Apple Watch, Apple has an opportunity to create a navigation system that’s truly smart and a heads-up display that personalizes the trip based on the Apple Watch on the wrist of the person sitting in the driver’s seat.

The song you were listening to on your Mac could continue playing when you start the engine. The quickest route to the office could be automatically set based on the time of day. A reminder could alert you to buy milk when you drive past a grocery store. It could give you a minute-by-minute weather forecast. And it could send a message to your thermostat when it notices you’re on your way home.

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Jim Karpen's picture

Author Details

Jim Karpen

Jim Karpen holds a Ph.D. in literature and writing, and has a love of gizmos. His doctoral dissertation focused on the revolutionary consequences of digital technologies and anticipated some of the developments taking place in the industry today. Jim has been writing about the Internet and technology since 1994 and has been using Apple's visionary products for decades.