Apple Inc. (AAPL) is accelerating efforts to produce its own electric car, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing people familiar with the company’s plans, who say the tech giant is moving forward with what it refers as a “committed project” internally, to manufacture and ship an electric car in four years.
The publication also says Cupertino decided to move forward with the project, which is said to involve 600 employees already, after exploring options for more than a year, as well as recently meeting with officials from California’s DMV to discuss autonomous-vehicle regulations. The Journal notes however, that Apple’s 2019 target date is ambitious. Building a car is a complex endeavor, and those familiar with Apple’s plans have expressed skepticism that the company would be able to hit that deadline.
The report also notes that while there have been indications suggesting Apple is exploring autonomous vehicles as part of its car project, it doesn’t currently plan to make its first electric vehicle driverless. Apple sees that functionality as part of the product’s long-term plans.
Despite the report and the fact of officially entering the automotive world last year when it released CarPlay, Apple remains mum about its car project. Apple CEO Tim Cook recently told talk show host Stephen Colbert, who asked about the plan, “We look at a number of things along the way, and we decide to really put our energies in a few of them.”
Needless to say, an electric car would put Apple in direct competition with Tesla (TSLA). While Elon Musk’s company does not sell a completely autonomous driving car, Tesla’s Model S is smart enough to safely navigate between lanes, sense pedestrians, adhere to speed limit signs and even pull into a spot in a parking garage. It will be fascinating to see the technological advancement the rivalry could bring.
Apple shares surged in early trade following the news. The stock is currently higher by $1.76, or 1.55%, at $115.21 on above average volume.