Apple has already disrupted major industries with the iPod, iPhone and iPad, and it might be eying the car as the next major consumer product that needs reinventing. Many reports claimed in the past months that Apple’s secret Project Titan team – which has around 1,000 employees, including former Tesla talent – is making an Apple car rather that improving the company’s mapping and navigation products, and new reports seem to indicate that’s exactly the case.
Apple has reportedly invested heavily in property in San Jose where the Project Titan car might be developed. According to AppleInsider, Apple is considering partnership for the project with an already-established player in the automotive space to have the car in production within five years.
Apple has apparently bought land in San Jose in August, paying $138 million for a 43-acre building plot that currently features some two million square feet of office space. However, the company has not filed documentation with the City of San Jose that would prove it plans to turn the newly acquired land in a car-developing facility.
The image above shows Apple’s undeveloped 43-acre plot (marked in red) that sits across the 101 Tech campus where it leased 300,000 square-feet of office space.
The design and technology of Project Titan cars remain “very much in flux,” according to the Apple news site, as the company is still considering using BMW’s i3 as the basis for the project. Apple top execs are apparently impressed with BMW’s decision to abandon “traditional approaches to car making,” which is what Apple intends to do with its car project.
A source familiar with the matter also said that a purchase of Tesla later down the road can’t be ruled out. While that seems to be just speculation at this point, the same source told AppleInsider that Apple has been ramping up Tesla staff poaching in the past few months.
Many of the 1,000 employees working on Project Titan are apparently coming over from Tesla.
According to past reports, which Elon Musk confirmed while trying to downplay the threat from Apple poaching employees, Apple has been paying signing bonuses of up to $250,000 to existing Tesla employees to come to work at Cupertino.
Apparently, Apple’s strategy is already hurting Tesla’s products, with rumblings saying that the affordable Model 3 might be delayed thanks in part to Apple snagging so many employees. The cheaper model is expected to arrive in late 2017.