Apple's electric car project an 'open secret,' says Elon Musk

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2016
In an interview on Monday, Tesla founder Elon Musk said it is obvious that Apple is working on an electric car to rival products from established automakers, though he doesn't foresee a Cupertino-designed vehicle threating growing Tesla sales.




While he declined to offer specifics, Musk seemed confident in telling the BBC that Apple is indeed working on an electric car that would compete with Tesla's lineup.

"Well it's pretty hard to hide something if you hire over a thousand engineers to do it," Musk said, adding that while Apple is serious about getting into the automotive market, the industry is a difficult one to disrupt.

Apple has been on a hiring spree over the past year, picking up numerous engineers, software programmers and other players from the automotive world. As Apple hires away engineers from Tesla, so does the electric car firm poach from Apple's ranks.

In October, Musk commented on the back-and-forth poaching issue, calling Apple a graveyard for engineers who "didn't make it" at Tesla. However, sources informed AppleInsider that certain high-level departures hindered Tesla's product development plans.

Apple's aggressive hiring practices come at the expense of smaller companies, like battery specialist A123 Systems and electric motorcycle maker Mission Motors, the latter of which ceased operations shortly after its top talent moved to Apple.

Aside from employment records, not much is known about the so-called "Apple Car." AppleInsider last year revealed a the project, dubbed internally as "Project Titan," was being run out of a secret facility in Sunnyvale, Calif., though research and development operations could soon be relocated to larger dedicated space in San Jose.

Most recently, it was discovered last week that Apple now owns "apple.car," "apple.auto" and "apple.cars" domain names, suggesting a consumer facing product is in the offing.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 52
    roakeroake Posts: 783member
    Interesting.. this is the largest-stakes new division that Apple has created.

    The initial sets of EMVs had such restrictions that I could not take them seriously.
    Then Tesla started making them; I love those vehicles!  Excellent range on a charge, looks great, excellent performance, forward-thinking design...  But still, for long road trips, these remain impractical, at least for me.  The Tesla recharging stations will eventually reduce some of the travel restrictions, but as of today, there are not enough on route that I drive to make these cars practical.

    Apple will certainly address "milage" on a charge, charge-speed, etc.  Tesla has been quite innovative, but I anticipate Apple will be more so.  I'm very interested to see what Apple will come up with to make their car more attractive than Tesla.  Since Apple tends to cash in on economy of scale, I'm hopeful that their car is far more affordable, but outperforms Tesla.  Apple is a luxury brand, but targets mass marketing rather than niche sales.

    There are so many variables... this will be interesting to watch unfold.

    On a side note, I wonder if the division will be called Apple Cars, Apple Motors, or what?  I very much doubt the individual car will be called the Apple Car.  Or maybe it will be; the sedan is the Apple Car, the SUV/Crossover is called the Apple Car Plus.
    jonagoldradarthekatfreshmakerclock07
  • Reply 2 of 52
    netroxnetrox Posts: 1,159member
    Why is that they say it is difficult to disrupt the automotive industry? I mean, no one imagined that Apple would become the biggest phone maker, right? Never underestimate what Apple can do. And now with Apple Watch taking a huge chunk of watch market, don't be surprised if we see Apple cars like we are now seeing with Apple watches.
    lolliverclock07jahbladecornchipbadmonk
  • Reply 3 of 52
    SoliSoli Posts: 10,033member
    Unlike their pocketable devices, it's going to be much harder to hide a full-size vehicle from the public, which tells me Apple will want to get in front of it when it's time. I hope it's this year we'll some sort of reveal, but the way Cook was so careful and calculated before coming out with a new product after taking over as CEO permanently, I can also see Cook using his patience and skills as a strategic to wait until the most opportune time to announce, even if he is excited to get something out to the world in the short term.
  • Reply 4 of 52
    Apple really just needs to name this thing the Apple Car. Apple the manufacturer, Car the model.

    Any search for “Car” will pull it up first. No, the name can’t be protected, but who else would be stupid enough to name their product Car, too?
    clock07
  • Reply 5 of 52
    JeoJeo Posts: 2member
    roake said:

    "Apple will certainly address "milage" on a charge, charge-speed, etc. "

    The advantage Tesla has is a supercharger network, so if Apple is smart, they will partner in some fashion so that the supercharger network can be expanded and enlarged to accommodate more vehicles. A 9 hour recharge like the new Chevy Bolt is fine for a daily commuter car, but driving for 8 or 10 hours will be out of the question in that vehicle. With a Tesla, you can do that trip without a significant time hit. Agree, it's going to be really interesting to see what unfolds.
    edited January 2016 clock07
  • Reply 6 of 52
    steviestevie Posts: 956member
    Apple really just needs to name this thing the Apple Car. Apple the manufacturer, Car the model.

    Any search for “Car” will pull it up first. No, the name can’t be protected, but who else would be stupid enough to name their product Car, too?
    iCar!!
  • Reply 7 of 52
    netrox said:
    Why is that they say it is difficult to disrupt the automotive industry? I mean, no one imagined that Apple would become the biggest phone maker, right? Never underestimate what Apple can do. And now with Apple Watch taking a huge chunk of watch market, don't be surprised if we see Apple cars like we are now seeing with Apple watches.
    I don't see it as disrupting the auto industry (well the sales model might), but you're definitely disrupting the fuel industry.
     
    You don't See BP or ExxonMobil going out of it's way to put out electrical charging stations, and partnering with Telsa/Apple/Faraday.
    The roads aren't the infrastructure (as long as EMVs use rubber wheels... think about it if they required narrow gauge rails)... fuel distribution is.

    Even with phones, Apple had to get one carrier to let it on the net, and front the cost of the phone to sell data packages.   GM wouldn't do that (CMAC may... GM dealers won't)... BP won't do that.

    radarthekat
  • Reply 8 of 52
    Apple really just needs to name this thing the Apple Car. Apple the manufacturer, Car the model.

    Any search for “Car” will pull it up first. No, the name can’t be protected, but who else would be stupid enough to name their product Car, too?
    Although there would have to be other models "down the road"... I would just hate for them to end up in a position where they have the Apple Car, Apple Car SUV, Apple Car Sport & worst of all... Apple Car Truck.
    edited January 2016 tallest skilradarthekat
  • Reply 9 of 52
    quinneyquinney Posts: 2,528member
    Soli said:
    Unlike their pocketable devices, it's going to be much harder to hide a full-size vehicle from the public, which tells me Apple will want to get in front of it when it's time. I hope it's this year we'll some sort of reveal, but the way Cook was so careful and calculated before coming out with a new product after taking over as CEO permanently, I can also see Cook using his patience and skills as a strategic to wait until the most opportune time to announce, even if he is excited to get something out to the world in the short term.
    I'm not sure Apple has reached a definite "yes" on the car project.  If they had, it would be in their interest to announce something, so that potential buyers would not buy something else, but rather would wait for the Apple Car.  I don't believe making an announcement about their car plans would have any adverse impact on any of their other products.
  • Reply 10 of 52
    He's not the first one to say it. MG Siegler said the same thing last year. Basically it's the worst kept secret in SV.
  • Reply 11 of 52
    entropysentropys Posts: 3,400member
    The main limitation of all electric cars is range and recharge time.  Basically it is not useful for a family car, tow vehicle or traveller that regularly travels long distances. Hence hybrids that all also have their deficiencies.

    Barring a hydrogen car, which like tesla requires a whole new infrastructure, the only way to accommodate electric vehicles in a significant way is to totally change the use paradigm.

    How about this: a subscription based service where you just book a trip on your smartphone, uber-like, to a driverless car service which has an extensive pool of vehicles always available, that automatically go to recharge when their batteries get low. Heck, in some circumstances you could even have a driverless resupply/ carrier truck to top up and drop off extra vehicles in more remote areas. It would disrupt the taxi business, heck even public transport in urban areas, solve the school drop off issues, and work like pony express over long distances. And people wouldn't have a $30k plus lump of engineering spending most of its time in the garage, or if that has been converted to a home theatre, outside in the elements.


    edited January 2016
  • Reply 12 of 52
    nasseraenasserae Posts: 3,167member
    Soli said:
    Unlike their pocketable devices, it's going to be much harder to hide a full-size vehicle from the public, which tells me Apple will want to get in front of it when it's time. I hope it's this year we'll some sort of reveal, but the way Cook was so careful and calculated before coming out with a new product after taking over as CEO permanently, I can also see Cook using his patience and skills as a strategic to wait until the most opportune time to announce, even if he is excited to get something out to the world in the short term.
    Apple revealed the original iPhone six months before release because as Steve Jobs said they didn't want people to find out about it from the FCC. It seems Apple accelerating its activity on the car recently. I am thinking an announcement this year.
    radarthekatpalomine
  • Reply 13 of 52
    steviestevie Posts: 956member

    Even with phones, Apple had to get one carrier to let it on the net, and front the cost of the phone to sell data packages.   GM wouldn't do that (CMAC may... GM dealers won't)... BP won't do that.


    What about Ford?  Or is Apple too late for them?
  • Reply 14 of 52
    It's doubtful that Apple wants to make a production electric car. It's more likely they want to control the Operating Systems of electric cars, but let GM/Ford/et al make the actual car. The OS will be the centerpiece for autodrive, power management, entertainment and climate control, etc. Apple wants their version of that OS running on electric cars.
  • Reply 15 of 52
    clemynxclemynx Posts: 1,517member
    Apple really just needs to name this thing the Apple Car. Apple the manufacturer, Car the model.

    Any search for “Car” will pull it up first. No, the name can’t be protected, but who else would be stupid enough to name their product Car, too?
    You know who would, the usual suspects. Samsung, Google, Microsoft... they have had no shame in using the same names Apple is using until now so why should they stop. Are you forgetting that? :)
  • Reply 16 of 52
    nasseraenasserae Posts: 3,167member
    clemynx said:
    Apple really just needs to name this thing the Apple Car. Apple the manufacturer, Car the model.

    Any search for “Car” will pull it up first. No, the name can’t be protected, but who else would be stupid enough to name their product Car, too?
    You know who would, the usual suspects. Samsung, Google, Microsoft... they have had no shame in using the same names Apple is using until now so why should they stop. Are you forgetting that? :)
    To be fair here, Samsung already sell Samsung branded cars in S Korea. 
  • Reply 17 of 52
    I am still not convinced that Apple will introduce their own branded auto. Similar to consumer electronics, autos are a cut-throat business with low margins and intrenched competitors. Apple would have to introduce something truly disruptive given the enormity of the challenge. Hope I am wrong, but my sense is that they are working on something 'auto-related' as opposed to a full-blown production auto...
  • Reply 18 of 52
    They could partner up with Starbuck to have charging stations at all their stand alone locations. While waiting for the car to charge, they can be inside sipping on a cappuccino and would help drive traffic and sales to Starbucks.
  • Reply 19 of 52
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,034member
    netrox said:
    Why is that they say it is difficult to disrupt the automotive industry? I mean, no one imagined that Apple would become the biggest phone maker, right?
    Would you say that what Apple achieved with the iPhone was easy?
  • Reply 20 of 52
    SoliSoli Posts: 10,033member
    Jacobrup said:
    They could partner up with Starbuck to have charging stations at all their stand alone locations. While waiting for the car to charge, they can be inside sipping on a cappuccino and would help drive traffic and sales to Starbucks.
    Unlike with Target, CostCo, Walmart, and other large stores, Starbucks probably have zero control over the parking lots for the buildings they rent.
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