Apple could be ready to produce an electric car within five years, Bloomberg reported late on Thursday, citing unnamed insiders. Apple has yet to officially comment on reports that it is developing its own e-car.
If true, the plan would represent an aggressive play for the emerging e-car market. The new timescale represents an aggressive play by the famously secretive iPhone maker.
An Apple e-car would put the company in direct competition with Tesla and other automakers in the US, Japan, and Europe with similar plans.
Both Tesla and General Motors are hoping to release an electric car in 2017 that can go more than 200 miles (320 kilometers) on a single charge and that would cost less than $40,000 (35,000 euros).
Apple posted a record profit of $18 billion in the last quarter of 2014, and is said to have a cash reserve of $178 billion to spend. Earlier this month Apple became the first company to be valued at over $700 billion.
Lawsuit over expert 'poaching'
But the IT giant is not without its troubles. Another company, A123 Systems, filed a lawsuit on Wednesday in the state of Massachusetts, claiming that five employees were recruited by Apple in violation of a "non-compete" clause in their contracts.
The complaints allege that Apple "interfered" with those agreements by "poaching" employees.
The lawsuit claimed that apart from those it recruited from A123, Apple has tried to hire battery experts from LG Chem Ltd, Samsung Electronics Co., Panasonic Corp., Toshiba Corp. and Johnson Controls Inc.
A123 is a subsidiary of Chinese car parts giant Wanxiang Group, which invested in the Massachusetts firm in 2013.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple has hired several hundred people for the project with the code name "Titan," which according to the report could be a car that incorporates some of the technology used on iPhones and iPads.
Some analysts are speculating that Apple is not building an e-car from scratch, but is looking to head off Android to become the dominant operating system in future e-cars.
bk/cjc (dpa, AFP)