Apple could launch an electric car in next four years

Apple could launch its first electric car in next four years

Apple hopes to launch an electric car to the public by 2019, according to reports that emerged this week.

The tech giant, which recently revealed updated consumer products and a stylus called the Apple Pencil designed for technical drawings, has now fully committed to producing an electric car within the next four years, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Developed under the code name "Titan", the vehicle is not expected to feature fully autonomous technology like Google's self-driving car, although it is thought the capability will be implemented in later versions.

It was reported earlier this year that Apple already has 600 employees working on an electric car design – a number now set to triple in the following months after an in-house investigation into the project's feasibility.

The design team responsible for delivering Titan, led by Apple design chief Jonathan Ive, is believed to have held regular meetings with car-brand executives throughout the year – and in some instances recruited them.

Last February, British newspaper the Financial Times reported that Apple had added the former head of Mercedes-Benz's Silicon Valley research and development unit to its team, which is already made up of several people with experience in vehicle design.

Marc Newson's concept car for Ford
Marc Newson's 021C concept car for Ford, designed in 1999

Other recent recruits include Marc Newson, who joined the company late last year. Newson – a close friend of Ive's – has previously created a concept car for Ford.

Apple has not confirmed or denied its move into the automotive industry. Last September, CEO Tim Cook revealed that "there are products [Apple] are working on that no one knows about".

While other technology firms are developing driverless technologies, it is suggested Apple will instead position itself as a competitor to Tesla – an industry-leading electric automobile manufacturer founded by billionaire PayPal and Space X founder Elon Musk.

Tesla's electric cars are partly autonomous; meaning the driver still has ultimate control, but is assisted with tasks such as parking. However, the real battle is thought to be a technological race to develop long-range and energy-efficient batteries, which can then be used in a variety of other products.

Traditional car manufacturers are reacting to the challenge firms such as Tesla, Google and Apple represent. Most recently, Porsche revealed its all-electric Mission E concept car, but other companies including Aston Martin, Audi, Bentley and McLaren all unveiled models that use battery technology at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show in March.