Apple may have hundreds of people working on an electric car Titan that looks like a minivan. Apple should buy Tesla.
Adam Rifkin stashed this in Cars!
Adding to the recent reports about an Apple vehicle, the Wall Street Journal reports that Apple has hundreds of people working on an electric vehicle under the code-name "Titan."
The current design apparently looks like a minivan.
This is just the latest story this week about Apple building a car. It seemed like a far-fetched idea a month ago, but now?
- In early February, an unmarked minivan was spotted driving around with a weird camera on it. It was traced back to Apple. People thought it could be a test of self driving car technology, or it could be a camera to capture street images for Apple Maps.
- A short while after that, an Apple employee emailed us unexpectedly to say, "Apple's latest project is too exciting to pass up. I think it will change the landscape and give Tesla a run for its money."
- Next, Bryan Chaffin at The Mac Observer reported that his sources said Apple was working on a car. He said, "What I learned is that Apple has been looking for—and acquiring—the kind of people from Tesla with expertise that is most suited to cars. So much so that I went from being a doubter to a believer almost instantly."
- Then, the Financial Times reported that Apple had a secret facility with "dozens" of people working on a car. The FT quotes somebody close to Apple saying that it initially seemed that the company was just working on the in-car experience, but "Today I think it’s a car."
Now, the Journal adds a lot more detail to these reports.
Apparently the project has been underway for more than a year and has hundreds of people working on it. It's reportedly being led by Steve Zadesky, a former Ford engineer who also helped build the iPhone. Johann Jungwirth, the chief of research and development at Mercedes-Benz in North America, was hired away in September to help run the project, too.
Apple investigates new product areas all the time, and there's a chance this won't ever come to market, but the size of the team and the executives hired to work on it make it seem pretty serious.
Tim Cook coyly hinted last year that Apple had projects that nobody knew about. It appears that this vehicle is one of them.
Mike Maples on why Apple should buy Tesla:
First -- Apple is close to an all time high in share price while Tesla has taken a hit recently and has doubters.
Second -- The Apple Watch may win or lose, but it's not a big enough idea. Phones are a mega macro market. And so are cars. For Apple to keep growing at an interesting rate they need to enter MASSIVE new markets.
Third -- Geographic proximity.
Fourth -- The car, as Tesla has shown, is a great frontier for integrating hardware and software. The success of Tesla shows that current companies have been way too slow to innovate in this area while Tesla has leaped ahead. Beautiful hardware powered by awesome consumer-facing software is an area of strength that Apple can extend.
Fifth -- There are product synergies -- For example, Apple buys a ton of batteries and so does Tesla. Same would be true of glass displays. Apple would increase its bargaining and pricing power for critical supplies.
Sixth -- it would cause the world to realize that the Tesla approach to making cars is here to stay. Right now, people still debate whether Tesla can survive or build a mainstream car. With the weight of Apple, the most valuable company in the world, behind it, people would no longer broach this as a topic. The rest of the auto industry would realize it has to respond.
Finally -- the mainstream auto industry is hopelessly rotten and is vulnerable. I LOVE cars and am a huge car freak. But after driving a Tesla I realize that even the best car companies are moving WAY too slow. They are just as bad as the cell phone makers before the iphone,
Anyway -- I know that some of these thoughts are crazy....but Tesla is way more than 10x as valuable to Apple than a pair of headphones :)
Oh -- and I almost forgot. Apple would get Elon Musk as a Board member. They could use a guy like him in the mix.