FUTURE IN AUTONOMOUS CARS? Technology giant Apple, are readying plans with its electric car project according to a new report. Image: AFP/ Issac Lawrence
San Franciso, United States - Apple is speeding up work on a project that could lead to the California tech giant building its own electric car, according to a new report.
The maker of iPhones and iPads is tripling the number of engineers on the project, code-named Titan, and has set a "ship date" of 2019, the Wall Street Journal said Monday (September 21 2015).
The newspaper said that could just be a target for engineers to sign off on the design, not necessarily when a car would be available for sale.
iPhone-maker interested in car technology
Apple declined comment Monday (September 21) on the Journal report, which cited unidentified sources.
While Apple has never officially confirmed it's planning to build a car, there are strong indications it's at least interested in automotive technology. In recent months, Apple has hired a number of engineers with backgrounds in automotive and battery design.
Read: Apple's Project Titan: Self-driving iVan?
Apple representatives also met in May 2015 with officials at an automotive testing facility located east of San Francisco. Site officials later confirmed to The Associated Press that Apple requested information about using their facility.
Apple discuss regulations for autonomous cars
And in August 2015, an Apple attorney met with officials at California's Department of Motor Vehicles to discuss the state's regulations for self-driving cars. A department spokesman confirmed that meeting to The Associated Press on Monday, after it was first reported by the Guardian newspaper.
Armando Botello, the agency's deputy director said: "DMV often meets with various companies regarding DMV operations. The Apple meeting was to review DMV's autonomous vehicle regulations."
Read: Veteran to lead Google's self-driving car push
A number of automakers and tech companies, including Google and Uber, are working on technology for autonomous and electric-powered vehicles. Google announced in September that it has hired former Hyundai US CEO John Krafcik to run its self-driving car program.
Analysts say Apple has the financial resources and ambition to design and build a high-end vehicle, although some believe it's more likely interested in developing software for use in cars made by other companies.
Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said: "We believe the auto industry represents a significant opportunity for Apple, but we also expect Apple to be deliberate as always in its product development and testing."
Munster said he believes there's a "50-60% probability" of an Apple car becoming a reality.