Rumors have been circulating that Apple is considering entering the auto industry, and the company has reportedly set up a secret research and development lab to possibly build a car.
The lab is supposedly at a secret location away from Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, but it is said that there are dozens of employees at the lab working on a car.
The rumors are partly due to the types of employees that Apple has been hiring over the past few months. The company is reportedly hiring many in the auto industry and in automotive technology to work on a project that will "give Tesla a run for its money," according to an email from an Apple employee.
"Three months ago I would have said it was CarPlay," said an unnamed source who has worked closely with Apple for many years. "Today I think it's a car."
Whether Apple actually will unveil a new car or not, it is becoming more clear that Apple is looking into entering a new market space. Apple has reportedly been offering Tesla employees massive salary bumps and $250,000 in signing bonuses to come over to Apple.
Apple chief designer Jonathan Ive has also reportedly been having regular meetings with executives in the automotive industry in attempts to hire them. Among those Ive has spoken with was reportedly a head of research and development at Mercedes-Benz.
Making a move into the auto industry would be difficult for Apple, which currently doesn't have the ability to manufacture cars.
It's also possible that Apple is not building a car of its own at all, but rather a car-related product, such as self-driving technology to rival Google, street-mapping equipment or even developments to CarPlay. It's also likely that any product to come out of Apple's so-called secret lab would still be at least a few years away.
The secret lab is said to be led by many of the same team that first developed the iPhone.
News of this team follows what was revealed to be a fleet of vehicles with mounted cameras, similar to the Google cars used by Google for its Maps service. These vans, however, sport at least a dozen cameras and what seems to be LiDAR modules for higher resolution mapping.
Apple is one of many large tech companies making the shift to the auto industry. Google has been working on its self-driving cars for a number of years now, and it's likely that Apple would want to have a competing product.