Apple’s electric vehicle project, once a blurry rumor, is coming into increasingly clear focus. A major scoop from the Wall Street Journal today gives us details about the car’s team, manufacturing, and a ship date–of 2019.
The sources of the Wall Street Journal’s Daisuke Wakabayashi are anonymous—he citied “people familiar with the matter”—but Wakabayashi has already given us most of what we know about the project. His sources say Apple is not only accelerating work on its car, but that car could hit the market as soon as 2019. The company has given the so-called Project Titan team a mandate to triple in size, which would put the team at 1,800 employees based on its current 600-member-strong size.
What still isn’t clear is whether Apple plans to manufacture the car itself, which would represent a shift for the company, which normally contracts out the actual making on its devices.
There are many unanswered questions about Apple’s automotive foray. It isn’t clear whether Apple has a manufacturing partner to become the car equivalent of Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., the Taiwanese contract manufacturer that builds most iPhones and is known by the trade name Foxconn. Most major auto makers build and run their own factories, but that hasn’t been Apple’s strategy with iPhones or iPads. Contract manufacturing in the auto industry usually is limited to a few niche models.
But back in February, Wakabayashi pointed out that Apple is one of the few companies on Earth with the cold, hard cash to do it.
One not-altogether-surprising detail of the report is that the first iteration of the vehicle won’t be totally autonomous. That’s no surprise, given the ship date cited–another detail that the WSJ is careful to hedge, pointing out that this terminology could simply represent the finalization of the product, rather than an in-store sell-by date; what’s more, “there is skepticism within the team that the 2019 target is achievable.”
So we’ve got plenty of caveats to these specifics–but Wakabayashi’s report isn’t the only new evidence we’ve got about the project. Over the past few months, we’ve seen evidence of major movement happening on Project Titan, and just a few days ago, reps from California’s DMV said they had met with Apple about the project. Apple’s car is coming–the question, now, seems to be when.
Contact the author at kelsey@Gizmodo.com.