Apple to Launch Electric Car?
The automotive world has been watching with interest as new entrants to the market seek to transform the car industry.
Google has been busy on its autonomous-car project, and Tesla has been revolutionising the electric car. Now there may be a new player in the car industry. It is being reported that Apple has been busy hiring the brightest and the best from the electric battery and car sectors, quietly building up a team of talent as they prepare to launch an electric car as early as 2020.
The California tech giant has reportedly been hiring specialists in battery technology and electric motor propulsion as they look to develop the vehicle. Tech watchers say that they have already hired around 20 key people with expertise in renewable energy, hybrid technologies, car safety and vehicle software applications.
This new Apple motor team is said to have been set up under the management of a couple of car industry heavyweights in the shape of former Mercedes head of research and development, Johann Jungwirth, and ex-Ford chief Steve Zadesky.
Most of the new Apple staff have been poached from Tesla, Ford and the specialist battery firm A123 Systems. It was A123 that brought Apple's hiring of such staff into the spotlight, when they started to sue Apple for poaching their top engineers. Apple has also been taking staff from other battery manufacturers such as Toshiba, LG Chem, Panasonic and Johnson Controls.
The story has been reported by business publisher Bloomberg, which has said that Apple plans to launch its vehicle in 2020. This is an aggressive target when compared with the industry standard of seven years to launch a new car. It is even more impressive when you consider that Apple has no existing infrastructure or designs or even premises to work from.
The vast majority of car manufacturers reduce the time to market and cost of new models by basing them heavily on existing cars. They also share parts and platforms with other manufacturers, meaning that although a car may look new on the outside, it will be fairly tried and tested under the skin. Apple will not be able to take advantage of this approach unless, of course, they have already set up a partnership with an existing manufacturer.
Tesla has already broken the mould with electric cars, proving that they can be sold to business users and become extremely desirable and even sporty cars. The latest Tesla Model S, for example, comes in a dual-motor version that has an 'insane' mode. This can power the car to 60mph in less than 3.2 seconds.
Tesla's cars have been aimed squarely at the luxury end of the market, but the company is set to release a new and more modestly priced model. This will reportedly cost less than $35,000 and will go for at least 200 miles on a single charge. Tesla's flagship model, the S, will cover more than 300 miles between charges.
Tesla founder, Elon Musk, has claimed that Apple has been trying to hire his employees with $250,000 signing-on bonuses and whopping 60% salary hikes.
It has been reported that Apple has been working on a type of electric minivan project after leasing a similar vehicle and fitting it with a variety of cameras and sensors. The car has been spotted driving around San Francisco and New York City.
It could make a lot of sense for Apple to develop an electric car. The company is famous for making stylish electronic devices, and after breaking out of its core computing business, it has had huge success with the iPod, iPhone and iPad in the MP3, mobile phone and tablet markets. Typically, Apple takes existing technologies and just makes them better and much more desirable. The electric-car market could be an obvious next step where Apple could work its magic. The company is also sitting on a huge cash pile and is on the lookout for its next big product after a lukewarm reception for the proposed Apple Watch. An 'iCar' may therefore be coming to a road near you very soon.