The Latest Apple Car Update Might Just Be The Biggest Yet
The rumors that Silicon Valley darling Apple might get into the electric car business reached a heightened pitch Monday, when Tesla CEO Elon Musk called it an "open secret" in an interview with BBC News. In recent months, there have been other signs that the Mac and iPhone maker might have its sights set on four wheels, and its entrance into the market would really mean the electric car had made it. Apple declined to comment on Musk's comments.
Just like how the iPod upended the existing MP3 player business, or how the iPhone took over the smartphone market which had been cornered by Blackberry, Apple releasing an electric, potentially self-driving vehicle would reshape the luxury electric car market currently dominated by Tesla. The good news for other automakers would be the market's growth. If MP3 players and smartphones are any indication, Apple won't enter this playground until it has perfected its product and the demand is about to explode.
Besides Musk's personal assessment of Apple's entrance, there have been other signs that an Apple car is getting closer. An electric car battery maker, A123 System, sued Apple in February, claiming the company poached its best employees — five PhDs and engineers — in an attempt to build its own car batteries. (Apple declined to comment.) Musk claimed Tuesday that his workers had also been targeted. "It's pretty hard to hide something if you hire over a thousand engineers to do it," he told BBC News.
Another clue is the registration of a few domain names, including Apple.car. Last week, CNBC reported that the company had registered Apple.cars and Apple.auto, as well. According to the a search of the Internet domain registry search WHOIS, the three websites are registered to Apple Inc. in Cupertino. That doesn't prove anything, but like the alleged talent poaching, it's another piece in the puzzle.
Apple rumor blogs MacRumors and 9to5Mac have long been reporting on a "Project Titan" — supposedly the company's electric car plan. In September, The Wall Street Journal reported that the vehicle could ship as soon as 2019. WSJ also said that the first model will likely not be self-driving, but that the team working on the project was on track to be tripled, and includes experts on driverless cars.
Regardless of the exact shipping date — or final feature set — Apple's commitment to the product launch points toward the imminent takeoff of the electric car. Other companies, like Ford, GM, and Fiat Chrysler, were showing off their latest electric offerings at an auto show this week in Detroit. Companies also touted cars at the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas, showing the true crossover of the industries.
Apple may not be the only player, but its potential entry into the market is a big sign that electric vehicles are about to take off. As Musk said in his interview, electric self-driving cars will be the norm before you know it.
Owning a car that is not self-driving in the long term will be like owning a horse — you would own it and use it for sentimental reasons but not for daily use.
For those of you who dread the commute to work (or want your car to work more like your iPhone): Know that those days have never been nearer.