Mark your calendars, Apple fans. The Apple Car will be ready to hit the streets in 2019, making it the very first product to roll out of Apple's Cupertino headquarters that significantly veers away from its product line of iPhones, iPads, Macs and the Apple Watch.
The Wall Street Journal cites persons familiar with the matter who claim that Apple has started to get serious about building its own electric car and has designated it as a "committed project." The company is also said to have transferred employees from various departments to triple its 600-person team working on Project Titan, the internal codename for its electric car project.
For Apple to be able to meet its ambitious ship date four years from now, the sources say the first Apple Car will be an electric car that will still be manned by a human driver, as opposed to earlier reports that the Apple Car will be an autonomous vehicle that will compete directly with vehicles being developed and tested by Google and Uber. Still, Apple plans to develop its own self-driving car in the long run, according to the sources.
The Wall Street Journal first broke the news that Apple was working on its own electric vehicle in February. Since then, various reports have surfaced providing further evidence of Apple's plans to make a splash in the highly competitive automotive industry.
The latest of these reports were confirmed by Apple's lawyers themselves, who said they have met with officials of the Department of Motor Vehicles to discuss current regulation surrounding self-driving vehicles.
Respected veterans in the automotive industry Apple hires recently - including former chief of quality at Fiat Chrysler Doug Betts and autonomous vehicle research Paul Furgale - point to Apple's plans.
In May, Apple visited GoMentum Station in Concord, California, a former Navy weapons station that has been transformed as a testing facility for self-driving and smart vehicles.
Speaking to Stephen Colbert during his late-night show last week, Apple CEO neither confirmed nor denied the rumors that Apple is planning to launch its own electric car.
"We look at a number of things along the way, and we decide to really put our energies in a few of them," he said.
Despite Apple's solid track record in creating new products that are loved by consumers, it's still unclear how Apple plans to succeed in an industry that is so competitive and where it has zero experience in.
A 2019 ship date, for one, may be too good to be true. Even some of the Journal's sources say the date could simply mean when Apple's engineers sign off on the car's main features, instead of the date when Apple actually ships the first car to its first customer.
Moreover, Apple faces tough competition against Google, which is already testing its futuristic-looking vehicles in California and Texas, and Uber, which has hired an entire team of automotive vehicle specialists from Carnegie Mellon University. There are also Tesla and Nissan, which sell the biggest number of electric vehicles to date, and traditional car makers such as General Motors, BMW and Audi have been stepping up their electric game.
And while Google has publicly mentioned that it will partner with existing manufacturers to mass produce its electric vehicles, Apple is not the type of company that goes into partnerships and wants to put its own brand and no one else's on its products. There is a lot that remains to be seen. Between now and 2019, a lot of developments can still derail or push forward Apple's automotive plans.