Elon Musk sure is keeping busy this week. Following up on his remarks that Tesla in two years time might have a vehicle capable of driving itself from coast to coast, the outspoken CEO appeared on BBC where he spoke candidly on a number of topics.
One of the more interesting exchanges occurred when Musk was asked about Apple’s rumored foray into the car industry. Rather than viewing Apple as a competitive threat, Musk said that he gladly welcomes any all newcomers who want to help accelerate a shift towards electric vehicle adoption.
“I encourage more participation by whoever it is to create electric vehicles,” Musk said. “It’s quite hard to do, but I think companies like Apple will probably make a compelling electric car. It seems like the obvious thing to do.”
Following that, Musk was asked if he had any first-hand knowledge about Apple’s rumored car initiative. This is the exchange that followed:
Musk: Well, it’s pretty hard to hide something if you hire over 1,000 engineers to do it.
BBC: So you think Apple is serious about it?
Musk: Yeah, I do. This is an open secret.
Though Apple’s rumored car initiative remains shrouded in mystery, there is a lot of evidence which suggests that Apple’s car-oriented R&D is much more than a cursory exploratory undertaking. While initial reports claimed that the size of Apple’s car development team was in the hundreds, Apple CEO Tim Cook reportedly gave the project’s leaders permission to assemble a 1,000-person strong team. In fact, a July report from The Register noted that “Apple has shifted so much staff towards its auto division that senior managers in other divisions are complaining about the loss of talent from their teams.”
Of course, Apple has also hired a number of seasoned engineers and executives from a who’s who of outside car companies, including BMW and Tesla. Addressing Apple’s poaching efforts, Musk this past October tried to play it cool by saying that Apple is a Tesla ‘graveyard’ and that the company only hires engineers that couldn’t cut it at Tesla. A few months previous, Musk also said that Apple was attempting to lure over Tesla engineers with significant signing bonuses and as much as a 60% bump in salary.
All that aside, Musk is spot-on about one thing: designing, developing, and manufacturing an electric vehicle is quite hard, and a much more challenging, involved, and complex process than anything Apple has ever done before. That said, it’ll be extremely interesting to see what type of Apple Car rumors emerge over the next 12 months. Apple obviously likes to keep its future product plans under wraps, but it’s a whole lot easier to keep a next-gen iPhone under the radar than a full-fledged car.
Make sure to check out Musk’s full BBC interview via the source link below.