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Apple Project Titan: Electric Car May Arrive By 2019

Apple is ramping up the development of its foray into electric car production—Project Titan—by expanding its team, the WSJ reports.
New York Auto Show: Cool Cars With Hot Tech
New York Auto Show: Cool Cars With Hot Tech
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Unconfirmed reports about Apple's secretive Project Titan -- the company’s all-electric vehicle project -- have been piling up with increasing rapidity.

The latest indication that Apple is pushing ahead with the project comes from a report in The Wall Street Journal, which quoted unnamed sources familiar with the matter as saying the company is targeting a shipment date of 2019.

Apple has authorized the leaders of Project Titan to triple the size of the development team, which currently stands at 600 and is swelling with the ranks of former auto industry leaders.

In an interesting twist, the sources said that, while Apple has been hiring experts in autonomous vehicle technology, Apple's first all-electric car won't be fully self-driving.

That technology will be integrated at a later date, and remains part of Apple's long-term strategy in the market, the sources said.

The report aligns with an earlier February report in Bloomberg, which described Apple's plans to enter the electronic vehicle market in 2020.

In August, Apple hired Jamie Carlson, a former senior engineer at electric car manufacturer Tesla Motors. Carlson is now listed as an employee of Apple under the heading special projects.

In July The WSJ revealed that Doug Betts, a former global quality executive at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, has joined Apple, though Betts declined to comment when contacted by the paper.

In addition to luring top tech talent, Apple is also reportedly reaching out to automakers with electric car experience to help it with Project Titan.

In July, the International Business Times reported that Apple is interested in partnering with BMW to use that company's i3 electric car as a platform for Apple's own vehicle. Apple CEO Tim Cook even went to BMW's production line for the i3, located in Leipzig, Germany, to take a tour of the facilities.

[Want to know more about Volkswagen's software cheat? Read Volkswagen CEO: Using Deceptive Software Was Wrong.]

A September research note by Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, which was published in several news outlets, put the likely chance of Apple actually producing an electric car at between 50% and 60%.

"If Apple makes a car as we know it today, we expect it to be an electric vehicle that is likely priced in the luxury market," he wrote. "A car by Apple may look completely different than what we think of as a typical car today in terms of shape and size."

Munster also opined that the project was closer to 10 years away from delivery than 5 years, noting that by that time automation will be a key competitive feature when Apple unveils the vehicle.

A Sept. 18 report in British newspaper the Guardian broke the news that Apple company executives had met with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) about Project Titan.

An earlier report from the Guardian revealed Apple's interest in GoMentum Station, a 5,000-acre former Navy weapons station in Concord, California, that features 20 miles of paved roadway.

Other companies have used the location for testing, validation, and commercialization of connected vehicle applications and autonomous vehicle technologies.