'About a dozen' Magna engineers working on Apple's electric car, 'Project Titan' - report

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware
Despite "Project Titan" shifting gears under new head Bob Mansfield, contract manufacturer Magna Steyr still reportedly has roughly a dozen engineers working on a car at Apple facilities in Sunnyvale, Calif.




The source of the information didn't tell Bloomberg exactly what aspects the engineers are contributing to. Given Magna's specialty, however, it could be that Apple is still planning to build a full-fledged vehicle, even with the New York Times suggesting the company is more narrowly concentrated on a self-driving platform. Bloomberg in fact acknowledged that shift.

The implication may be that Apple plans to develop self-driving technology first, then shift the focus back to vehicle design. Alternately, the Magna engineers might simply be consulting on autonomous systems, but that's not reflected in the new report's language.

Early rumors suggested that Apple was planning to launch a car as soon as 2019 or 2020, but that the first model might not be self-driving. Later on, obstacles were said to have delayed a rollout until 2021.

It could be that Apple is now committed to making its first car self-driving, especially in light of intensifying competition. Uber already has self-driving cars in limited commercial service, and Tesla has implemented semi-autonomous systems in its cars with the goal of full-scale technology within a few years. Likewise, Ford should have a self-driving car ready by 2021.

AppleInsider first discovered Apple's Sunnyvale facilities in early 2015. Project Titan is likely extending well beyond them though, as the Times indicated that Apple is testing self-driving cars in closed environments.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 31
    Just a suggestion... This story could benefit from a bit more information about Magna Steyr. Yes, anyone can look it up, but the average reader doesn't know them from Adam.
    edited September 2016 irelandcalipotatoleeksouptallest skilbadmonk
  • Reply 2 of 31
    Nobody really knows what's going on. The most likely scenario is Apple's ultimate goal is a vehicle (they are a product company after all) but if that doesn't pan out they have something to fall back on which would be software they could pitch to existing car companies.
    calimwhite
  • Reply 3 of 31
    Will it have a headphone jack?
    justin freitasoneof52techprod1gy1sttallest skil
  • Reply 4 of 31
    Nobody really knows what's going on. The most likely scenario is Apple's ultimate goal is a vehicle (they are a product company after all) but if that doesn't pan out they have something to fall back on which would be software they could pitch to existing car companies.
    I very highly doubt that Apple would go into a line of business as a component supplier, meaning no control at all over the final product's customer experience.
    SpamSandwichcali
  • Reply 5 of 31
    Magna  is most likely building prototypes for Apple. 
    Apple cannot  build a theoretical car and sell it all over the world. 
    They have to tests their theories. 
    Car_guyh2pslprescott
  • Reply 6 of 31
    irelandireland Posts: 17,584member

    The source of the information didn't tell Bloomberg exactly what aspects the engineers are contributing to. Given Magna's specialty, however, it could be that Apple is still planning to build a full-fledged vehicle...
    I predicted this with my crystal ball. 1,000 people minus a few dozen. Apple Car is here to stay, people. Building stuff is never smooth sailing. End product is what counts.
    edited September 2016 calih2p
  • Reply 7 of 31
    irelandireland Posts: 17,584member
    Magna  is most likely building prototypes for Apple. 
    Apple cannot  build a theoretical car and sell it all over the world. 
    They have to tests their theories. 
    Insightful :P
    edited September 2016 SpamSandwich
  • Reply 8 of 31
    My thoughts are is that they realized that the actual car design/construction expertise is not as critical (and more readily available out in the market place when needed) at this stage of the project as the underlying technology they're trying to develop to go into the car being designed/built. I read that the overall workforce working on Project Titan remained the same, being more of a shift between working groups. Sounds like some fine-tuning of a large, long-term project that got blown out of proportion. I am pretty certain Apple intends on selling their own car, most likely contracting out the actual manufacturing like most other car companies already do with a number of their car models - especially final assembly
  • Reply 9 of 31
    tzterri said:
    Will it have a headphone jack?
    No, but it will come with a battery-powered hydraulic jack as an option.
    h2p
  • Reply 10 of 31
    asdasdasdasd Posts: 5,293member
    while it makes kind of sense to hedge bets in case self driving cars take off, they won't. 
  • Reply 11 of 31
    irelandireland Posts: 17,584member
    asdasd said:
    while it makes kind of sense to hedge bets in case self driving cars take off, they won't. 
    Doesn't make sense. Anyone's building a car right now has to include this as part of their car. Self-driving R&D is indefinite.
  • Reply 12 of 31
    quinneyquinney Posts: 2,525member
    It was always a possibility Magna could be the automobile equivalent of Foxconn in Apple's manufacturing plans.
  • Reply 13 of 31
    Chazman said:
    My thoughts are is that they realized that the actual car design/construction expertise is not as critical (and more readily available out in the market place when needed) at this stage of the project as the underlying technology they're trying to develop to go into the car being designed/built. I read that the overall workforce working on Project Titan remained the same, being more of a shift between working groups. Sounds like some fine-tuning of a large, long-term project that got blown out of proportion. I am pretty certain Apple intends on selling their own car, most likely contracting out the actual manufacturing like most other car companies already do with a number of their car models - especially final assembly
    No auto manufacturer outsources the final assembly of one of their primary vehicles to another company. It is done with some specialty vehicles and Magna Styer does have a plant in Austria that it uses to build low volume vehicles for a few OEMs. The reason for this is that building a product with over 10,000 parts and thousands of potential variations with extremely high quality is incredibly difficult. Also, the opportunity to continuously improve the assembly process is one of the best ways to improve the profit margin on each vehicle. Lastly, auto assembly plants are massive, extremely expensive operations and a company needs the flexibility of adding popular product to a plant that currently building slower selling product to both increase volume on the popular product and improve the margins of the slow selling one. Can't do that if somebody else is doing the assembly.
  • Reply 14 of 31
    There are many new technological advancements in development. Amazing new research in battery technologies has been published recently. Tesla'a giga factory could be absolete. 
    I don't think Apple needs to rush a car out but do as has been suggested and work on basic research instead.

    The better short term investment should be in the medical and fitness technologies. They fit with their existing ecosystem perfectly already and can ship in tiny high margin boxes via ups, instead of the massive raw materials and headaches involved in something Tesla has been losing so much money on. 
    edited September 2016 Car_guyh2p
  • Reply 15 of 31
    This is good news for Apple investors and the presence of the Magna Styer engineers should be seen as evidence that Apple is focusing on the software (and possibly computer hardware) platform vs trying to build an entire car. It is good news for investors because even the most wildly successful auto manufacturers only make a 10-15% margin on their business. Even if Apple ended up with the highest margins in the industry, they would still be a drag on the margins of their existing business. That would only take place after absorbing heavy losses for 5+ years. Tesla is a perfect example. By concentrating on developing a new architecture platform for the future wave of autonomous electric vehicles Apple would be able to earn the much higher margins that a supplier earns along with much lower capital costs. They would be 'outsourcing' the development of their entire vehicle to the existing manufacturers while retaining the expanding market for consumer interaction and services associated with a smart, connected vehicle.
    h2p
  • Reply 16 of 31
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,215member
    tzterri said:
    Will it have a headphone jack?
    No but dual SCSI exhausts maybe ... Oh wait it's electric silly me... 

    I still hold out some hope that it is both a an autonomous car and a  VTO plane and can be a boat and or submarine too and the front screen doubles as a massive TV.
    edited September 2016 h2p
  • Reply 17 of 31
    I hope Apple and other technology companies push the autonomous age forward. I really don't know what the right answer is but I think Tesla did a nice job pushing electric autos further. We now need more catalyst to get the augmented or autonomous features to the next level.
  • Reply 18 of 31
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    tzterri said:
    Will it have a headphone jack?
    Yes and a cassette deck.
  • Reply 19 of 31
    "The implication may be that Apple plans to develop self-driving technology first, then shift the focus back to vehicle design."

    lol....
    Hey Bobby, did you finish yet? Yeah, Jimmy, go ahead, you guys can start working on the car now.

    i'm pretty sure they are capable of chewing gum and walking at the same time
  • Reply 20 of 31
    Magna is a contract manufacturer... The biggest I think.
    And supposedly Apple is "not" building a car... Yeah, right.
    ration al
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