Apple Inc. is accelerating efforts to build an electric car, designating it internally as a “committed project” and setting a target ship date for 2019, according to people familiar with the matter.
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. Leaders of the project, code-named Titan, have been given permission to triple the 600-person team, the people familiar with the matter said.
Apple has hired experts in driverless cars, but the people familiar with Apple’s plans said the Cupertino, Calif., company doesn’t currently plan to make its first electric vehicle fully autonomous. That capability is part of the product’s long-term plans, the people familiar with the matter said.
Apple’s commitment is a sign that the company sees an opportunity to become a player in the automotive industry by applying expertise that it has honed in developing iPhones—in areas such as batteries, sensors and hardware-software integration—to the next generation of cars.