Apple Reportedly Will Build Electric Cars by 2019

The vehicles wouldn't be self-driving, but would bring Apple into the electric car marketplace to compete with Toyota, Tesla, GM and others.

Apple electric cars

Seven months after reports surfaced that Apple was looking closely at building electric cars by the end of the decade, the company is again being mentioned as pursuing an electric car strategy by 2019.

The company is accelerating the effort, which it is calling a "committed project" based on interviews with sources who are familiar with the plans, according to a Sept. 21 story by The Wall Street Journal.

"The go-ahead came after the company spent more than a year investigating the feasibility of an Apple-branded car, including meetings with two groups of government officials in California," the story reported. "Leaders of the project, code-named Titan, have been given permission to triple the 600-person team," sources told the paper.

Apple has also been eyeing self-driving cars in a separate venture like its rival Google, but the electric cars are specifically not being seen as driverless cars, the story continued.

For Apple, building any kind of vehicle could be a stretch, since they are filled with a large number of systems that are not in the consumer products company's fields of expertise.

On the other hand, Apple is flush with cash on hand—more than $178 billion earlier this year—and can pretty much afford to do whatever kinds of research and development it wants to try.

Back in February, the first reports about Apple looking at building electric cars began to surface, according to an earlier eWEEK story, as the company explores new business opportunities outside of its core consumer technology and computer, tablet and smartphone businesses.

Apple, at the time, was in the process of hiring about 200 people from inside Apple and from potential competitors like Tesla to develop technologies for an electric car, according to reports. Some of those hires were revealed in a lawsuit filed against Apple in February in Massachusetts federal court, which alleged that Apple embarked on an aggressive campaign in June 2014 to poach employees from A123 Systems, a Livonia, Mich., company that makes electric car batteries.

Electric cars aren't the only electricity topic on the company's agenda recently. Earlier in February, Apple unveiled its plans to purchase $848 million worth of solar power for its corporate use over 25 years from a solar power facility that is being built in Arizona by First Solar as part of its goal to combat climate change by cutting its reliance on fossil fuels.