By on February 16, 2015

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Not about to let Google or Tesla tackle the automotive space without competition, Apple is rumored to be entering the game with its own EV project.

Autoblog reports the project, dubbed Project Titan, is an EV resembling a minivan, and has several hundred Apple employees working to make the vehicle a reality. Vice president of product design and former Ford engineer Steve Zadesky is said to be leading the project, while director of Mac systems engineering and former Mercedes-Benz R&D chief Johann Jungwirth is contributing his knowledge. Austrian supplier Magna Steyr has also been tapped by Apple execs to help guide the project along.

News of the rumored EV comes amid other rumors regarding the company’s poaching missions to Tesla — who allegedly have done the same to Apple in return — as well its desire to enter the autonomous vehicle market to one-up Google down the road.

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25 Comments on “Apple Rumored At Work On Titan EV Project...”


  • avatar
    Luke42

    Apple doesn’t even manufacture their core products like the iPhone (Foxconn does that). So, even if they were to produce an Apple-branded vehicle, it’s likely that it would be manufactured by a real car company.

    There’s every reason to think that this effort is some sort of partnership with a real car company, regardless of what their deliverable is. Apple’s unique expertise is in software development, user interaction, small electronics, and beautiful Designs (if you consider Frog Designs to be part of Apple). It’s easy to imagine Apple building an automotive prototypes in order to provide specs and/or software to a real car company as part of some sort partnership.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      There is no legitimate reason to think they’re actually working on an EV–it’s a rumor spurred by the fact that they’re “poaching” engineers from Tesla without considering what kind of engineers they’re poaching. For all we know, they could be pulling software engineers who understand what Tesla has done to build and program that huge infotainment console while Tesla itself might by trying to improve the interface of the same said console. After all, we already know that Apple has become a core designer for infotainment for several different brands.

      Conversely, maybe they’re not actually poaching from each other, but rather working in a silent partnership to design and build a fourth Tesla model code-named “Jobs”; a true working vehicle that offers reasonably heavy load and towing capability like a pickup truck without being so grossly oversized simply because it doesn’t need to in order to stay within CAFE economy constraints. Just as modern pickup trucks carry two fuel tanks to give decent range when loaded, it could carry two full-sized battery packs which would give it a 500+-mile range when light and still give 200+ when loaded. Of course, such a rig might need to use two Supercharger stations simultaneously to hold the charging time down to 1 hour or less.

      This makes about as much sense as the above speculation.

      • 0 avatar
        juicy sushi

        The more detailed info I’ve seen elsewhere mentions that the Tesla employees were those specifically with experience useful to building the car, not the software. And Jobs, Ives and the current CEO Tim Cook all have either interest in cars, or have said they’d like Apple to do one.

        I doubt they would actually succeed, since developing a one-off is very easy, while building an actual large-volume production car is not. But they actually do have the cash to fund the proper R&D. I just can’t see how this would make a ton of business sense.

  • avatar
    Luke42

    Microsoft used to have an automotive product line where they tried to provide infotainment systems for cars, and Ford was a partner until recently.

    MyFordTouch really did resemble a Microsoft product, because it was… But Microsoft could get away with uncompetitive products with poor interoperability that would get any other computer industry player laughed off the block, because of Microsoft’s sales model and because nobody ever got fired for recommending Microsoft. Ford bailed after years of getting panned for having Microsoft quality software in their car, and decided to go it alone.

    Apple has announced they are entering this market. It’s easy to imagine that Apple has dozens or hundreds of engineers working on an effort similar to Microsoft’s effort (but without the parts that suck), and that a few minivan-sized prototype vehicles would be a useful part of the effort. My money is on this being what is happening over there.

    A more exciting but less likely possibility, and the one which set the journalists atwitter, is that Apple could want to Design an Apple-brandeh vehicle and have it manufactured by a real car company. It’s a cool idea, and I’d love an EV shaped like a minivan. But, as someone who works for a silicon valley company which is not Apple, I’d be very surprised — because Apple doesn’t have any unfair advantages outside of the software, Design, user interaction, and electronics supply chain management spaces. An idea doesn’t get in Silicon Valley without an unfair advantage, so Apple becoming a car company is unlikely.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      “Microsoft used to have an automotive product line where they tried to provide infotainment systems for cars, and Ford was a partner until recently.”

      You do know who Ford went with for their second-generation effort, don’t you? Based on reports it’s significantly easier to use than MFT.

      Say hello to the return of Blackberry.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        QNX is no more BlackBerry than GNU/Linux is Android.

        It’s just a realtime kernel and base OS. It’s a good one, but regular users won’t see the commonality through the GUI.

  • avatar
    redav

    But are they really offering $250k signing bonuses?

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Only for the special people.

      Rank and file engineers don’t get those kind of salaries or bonuses, much less any kind of signing bonus. It’s like perpetual grad school for those who merely work hard and are good at that they do.

  • avatar
    dcars

    Apple’s market cap is $740 Billion, Google’s $340 Billion, Ford’s $62 Billion and the Mighty GM’s is $60 Billion. The tech’s really haven’t entered the vehicle interior environment in a major way and maybe it’s time for them to do so.

    • 0 avatar
      Richard Chen

      Apple’s $200 billion cash hoard is mostly overseas, they could pay Magna Steyr (and other companies) for R&D without having to bother with repatriation taxes. Think: BMW and the 1st gen X3 as what Magna could do. Apple was rumored to have worked not he Jaguar car UI, and just happen to have hired a few people with car design backgrounds:
      http://www.cultofmac.com/311880/apple-car-automotive-designers/

      Suppose the CAR is a teardrop-shaped minivan, self-driving, electric, offered only as a service for cities and suburbs. It wouldn’t be coming for several years, obviously. Apple wouldn’t have to bother with dealerships, you would go to the Apple Store and sign up. Recurring monthly fee$, as Apple would handle everything else including maintenance, charging, insurance. Sorry, Mr. Ruggles, no dealers needed, nor wanted.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        “Suppose the CAR is a teardrop-shaped minivan, self-driving, electric, offered only as a service for cities and suburbs.”

        First off, a teardrop shape is not the most aerodynamic shape. Sure, raindrops as we look at them are shaped like that, but that’s because it’s the highest-drag shape it can take and still hold together. When you look at the fastest shapes in nature, they are typically long and thin, with a tapered mid-section before expanding out again. Hydrodynamic studies prove that a long, tapered nose is more aerodynamic than the other way around.

        As for what they are working on, it may just be possible that they’re working on a design to benefit their own needs, where that ‘flying saucer’ campus is more than a mile across and they may need some form of in-house people mover. This could also be beneficial if Apple chooses to ‘bus’ employees and executives to local meetings and announcement events. Such purposes would also be an ideal platform to test new designs in battery and control technologies.

        • 0 avatar
          jdogma

          “Hydrodynamic studies prove that a long, tapered nose is more aerodynamic than the other way around.” Wrong. see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ArW-sA8NsQ

          Check out the shape of things on airplanes like wheel fairings for additional confirmation. Also consider the front fender shapes on cars like the Peugeot 905 that was a 250 mph car with aero by Dassault.

          The basic teardrop, scaled properly for Reynolds number, is the most aerodynamic shape until speeds get extremely high and compressibility is a factor – well over 300 mph.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            I could show you a number of videos and photos that argue against your selections:
            * Mythbusters: http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/a11684/how-to-drive-a-backward-porsche/

            * Supersonic Car: http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/a11684/how-to-drive-a-backward-porsche/

            * World’s Fastest Airplane: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isVOn69ULs8&spfreload=10

            * World’s Fastest Fighter Jets: http://www.airforce-technology.com/features/featurefast-and-furious—the-worlds-fastest-military-aircraft-4214937/

            None of the vehicles above carry a “teardrop” shape.

        • 0 avatar
          jdogma

          Like I said, when you get into compressibility – speeds well over 300, the teardrop shape is no longer the best. When you point me to supersonic stuff, it does not apply. The other 2 links about the Porsche 928 do not have any drag information. Study some fluid dynamics. That is what I did. Just don’t like to see misinformation from someone who is otherwise presenting what seems to be accurate information (now I have doubts).

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            The episode working with the Porshe 928 was aired just this past weekend. It clearly demonstrated that the blunt end was less aerodynamic than the pointy end.

        • 0 avatar
          jdogma

          This video will show you exactly what you have confused. Just have to watch the first few minutes to see another demo by the National Committee for Fluid Mechanics. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acySDnGYzVM

          Fluid dynamics is often counterintuitive. I suggest watching the whole film series for a good start to having a grasp on fluid dynamics.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            While valid as far as it goes, the presenter did not try an airfoil tapered at both ends. That specific wing shape he was working with is designed to produce lift at relatively low airspeeds, which means it will automatically have more drag at lower speeds. Note also that purpose-built stunt airplanes have a completely symmetrical airfoil as compared to the flat-bottomed wing of most sub-sonic craft. They tend to fly on pure power rather than relying on lift alone.

            Yes, the tapered rear does improve the flow, but the other effects of the shape still offer more drag than a wasp-waisted needle.

        • 0 avatar
          jdogma

          “the presenter did not try an airfoil tapered at both ends” Correct, and all this proves is that the trailing edge being tapered with a blunt leading edge is less drag than a tapered leading edge with a blunt trailing edge – but this in itself is not exactly intuitive, is it? Drag has inertial components (the change of speed of individual air molecules – and this is pretty intuitive – a pointed leading edge produces less inertial change) and viscous components (think of it as stickyness – accounts for skin drag). You will note that in certain cases (watch the whole series) that a round shape has less drag than a teardrop shape! It happens that at the Reynolds numbers that cars and subsonic planes typically operate at, that the blunt leading edge, which has less skin drag is better than a pointed one. “That specific wing shape he was working with is designed to produce lift at relatively low airspeeds,” This is incorrect. He is using a symmetrical airfoil, the purpose of which is to reduce form drag (at 0 angle of attck it produces 0 lift), not produce lift. While it will produce lift as angle of attack is added, it is not typical of what is considered a lifting airfoil(and is a rather poor one). Further in error is: “means it will automatically have more drag at lower speeds” It will not have higher drag at lower speeds as proven by his instrumentation calibration at the start of the video.

          Again,even if you do not watch and comprehend the whole series and come to the same conclusion that I have, ask yourself why smart aerodynamicists make teardrop shapes over things when they want to reduce drag. Consider the fairings on cameras on F1 cars – they have a teardrop shape. Another very important factor is the angle of attack. A car is not always going perfectly normal to airflow. During turns and in cross winds, the air impacts the car at an angle. Sharp leading edges are more prone to flow separation, which again if you watch the series on aero drag, you will see is a major drag inducer.

        • 0 avatar
          jdogma

          “The episode working with the Porshe 928 was aired just this past weekend. It clearly demonstrated that the blunt end was less aerodynamic than the pointy end.” The 928 is not a teardrop shape, so discussion of it really is not germane. Going backwards it has a quick drop off from the windshield which should cause a low pressure area and flow separation. Reading NASCAR history will demonstrate the importance of a gentle taper at the rear for high speed drag reduction.

  • avatar
    DriverDan7

    There’s no reason to think the exchange of employees between Apple and Tesla is a recent thing, or means Apple’s going to make a car. And even if that is true, CEO Tim Cook only approved this a year ago.

    A long-time Apple blogger posits two interesting explanations. It could be a project meant to attract and keep engineering talent by giving them something to dream about, and via their work spawn interesting offshoots for their other products. Also, it could be to keep investors interested in the future. Oh, and it keeps Apple’s competition more on edge.

    But after all, Apple has more than enough cash to just go out and buy a carmaker, and roll their own. Even Tesla.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Just can’t see it happening. I know that Apple has more liquid cash that most countries and a market cap that is closer to the the GDP of small developing nations, but simply no way.

    Apple is all about making profit. Fat stacks of obscene profits. Unless they are planning to be a luxury niche player and that’s it – this won’t produce fast stacks of crazy profit – and will require billions in R&D.

    I just don’t see it happening. POC? Sure. Working on subsystems outside of the obvious infotainment and telemetry to license to OEMs? Kind of goes outside their model of control everything but possible.

    Whole cars?

    Just don’t see it, and I don’t see the average shareholder rewarding them if they go this path.

  • avatar
    SpinnyD

    It’s just Apple’s version of streetview that every one is seeing. One analyst( That historically is always wrong) speculated that Apple was working on a car and everyone is running with it.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Long time Apple owner here… I think its a little of what SpinnyD said plus a little of what Luke42 said. Apple wants to OWN the dashboard space. That means: music, mapping, dinner reservations, speech to text, etc. As mentioned by APaGttH Apple is about profits and everyone knows cars (vehicle manufacturing) is low end stuff unless your making a Tesla-like product. And given Apple’s cash hoard they could just BUY Tesla if they really wanted into the auto game. Maybe that is why they are stealing Tesla’s engineers… to learn how Tesla works from the inside.

    However my guess is Apple is trying to become a supplier to the auto industry. Selling both hardware and software. Think Cummins Diesel or Bose. You go to Brand X car dealer (Ford, Chevy, Audi, whatever) and one of the available options is the (expensive) “Apple Package” which consists of various Jonny Ive approved Apple add-ons. Starting with simple things like an Apple Radio but moving all the way up (in due time) to the Apple Hybrid Battery Pack or Siri AutoDrive option. Maybe even full Apple Leather Dash kits. Lots of possibilities here. Now let’s think… who else has Apple gobbled up recently? Beats! So how about a Beats/Apple sound system… tuned by Dre with a Jonny Ive interface? Hmmmm Sounds exclusive and expensive. Right up Apple’s alley.

  • avatar
    Waftable Torque aka Daniel Ho

    It wouldn’t surprise me if the Titan project is nothing more than a radio transducer emulator to replace your car key fob with an Apple Watch or iPhone. Then there would be one less thing for you to carry around. The benefit for Apple is further locking you in to their ecosystem, and possible incorporation of more advanced Car Play features like customized map routes.

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