Apple’s ‘Project Titan’ could reshape the auto world

“Detroit had a good year in 2014, selling 16.5 million autos — up 1 million from 2013. The stock of Ford and GM has revved on the good news, jumping 5.7 and 7.8 percent, respectively, in 2015.,” Jonathon M. Trugman reports for The New York Post. “But in just one week, Detroit’s vibe has gone from hip to has-been.”

MacDailyNews Take: The last time Detroit’s vibe was hip was in the 1960s.

“With reports last week that Apple hopes to bring a car to market in five years, every motorist who remembers the pre-iPhone era of smartphones must be feeling like their new car will go the way of BlackBerry, Nokia or Palm Pilot,” Trugman reports. “Currently, at a secret location near its Cupertino, Calif., headquarters, Apple is said to be working on a car design — code-named “Project Titan” — at breakneck speed. While auto companies can take as long as seven years to develop a car, Apple is said to be hoping to start shipping its vehicles in five years — or as early as 2020.”

“Former Ford Engineer Steve Zadesky is heading up Titan,” Trugman reports. “Zadesky, the boss, besides holding 90-some patents, was the sole signatory on a 2010 business contract with an organization called Liquidmetal. It is known for Moldable Metal — ‘Nanophosphate metal’ — which can be shaped like plastic. Detroit still welds. Apple and Liquidmetal have filed 17 patents together — 14 in the past year or so. It’s this kind of think-way-outside-of-box process that elevates Apple vs. its peers.”

Read more in the full article here.

Related articles:
Meet Steve Zadesky, the reported leader of Apple’s ‘Project Titan’ – February 17, 2015
Forget the rumor: Apple will never build cars – February 17, 2015
The real battle Apple is waging in autos – February 17, 2015
O’Leary: Yes, give me the Apple car – February 17, 2015
Will Apple become a car maker or a platform/content aggregator? – February 17, 2015
An Apple Car is exactly what investors want – February 17, 2015
Apple’s electric car dreams may bring auto industry nightmares – February 17, 2015
Jean-Louis Gassée: The fantastic Apple Car is a fantasy – February 16, 2015
Apple is already positioned to be a car company in many ways – February 16, 2015
Why Tim Cook would want to build an Apple Car – February 14, 2015
Apple working on self-driving electric car, source says – February 14, 2015
Apple’s project ‘Titan’ gears up to challenge Tesla in electric cars – February 13, 2015
Apple’s next big thing: The Apple Car? – February 13, 2015
Apple hiring auto engineers and designers – February 13, 2015

64 Comments

      1. I don’t know about that. Stories combining rumours and hearsay, and clever theories about what Apple is really up to, are a dime a dozen these days.

        I’d be less surprised seeing the Pulitzer Prize given to an intrepid journalist for his/her shocking exposé of corporate greed and cruelty (even if it was fabricated).

    1. The Apple Cart will likely have the same chassis and the buyer picks the chassis, sedan, SUV or delivery truck.

      No sense building 3 different drive platforms for 3 different models.

      Tim Cook & crew know how to be efficient.

      1. That would mean unfortunate compromises that Apple would never accept. One design manipulated to fit all has never been their modus operandi, it will be specifically designed at pleasing a given market methinks, the aspirational eco caring one no doubt. Thats if I believed they will actually build a car at all anyway. Still need to be convinced.

    2. it’s interesting how much interest this has generated, and from so little. From my own study of AAPL’s EGG charts (+- BUN), I’ve always believed that AAPL is moving in the direction of robotics, and that AI-basred, motorized, AAPL assistants will one day be integrated into our lives. In a way, a “smart car” is a move in that direction, a transportation robot.

  1. “Currently, at a secret location near its Cupertino, Calif., headquarters…”

    Now we know why Apple’s new HQ is in a shape of doughnut. Once completed, it will house on one of its many floors (underground?) a test speedway! Yet another of Steve Jobs foresights, his legacy continues to grow! 🙂

    1. If Apple is going to design and do destruction testing like Ford & GM, they are going to need a multi-hundred acre test area.

      Test tracks allow non-stop long term tests of prototype cars to simulate a decade of hard driving in a short period. That is the only way you finally detect the most obscure failure points. Apple’s attention to detail would make this mandatory.

      It isn’t going to be in Cupertino. South 60 miles in farmland or in Nevada would be logical.

      1. Hard to believe Detroit is detecting obscure failure points. They cannot even replace _known_ faulty mortal defect without punting on it for least 7 years.

        Detroit and the whole automotive industry totally needs to be re-imagined.

    2. ‘Secretly’, all this automotive and battery engineering is being applied to the BATTLE BOTS that Apple will be setting against each other in the center of the ‘Mother Ship’ every weekend for arena entertainment! I’m going to use this as a ridiculous rumor of my own as this vacuous TechTard journalism rumor mongering progresses over the coming YEARS. It’s going to be fun. 😉

  2. Apple can restructure the auto world with 4 basic concepts:

    1. Reusable chassis w/easily replaced user choosable body/interior (sedan, SUV, delivery truck): electric motors and frames can last decades. Replacing a dented bumper should not cost $2000.

    2. Totally integrated and upgradable electronics with rechargeable battery technology that is top notch.

    3. Nano material coatings in many parts & some that eliminate paint: longer life

    4. Capital, technology, innovative people and supply chain management that is #1.

    1. actually i was thinking the opposite. car will be built like an ipad. not meant for the owner to open up and replace parts. most likely they will come up with a way to have the battery easily changed out within minutes at a service station. probably build it with the same quality as their other products. they’ll last long after warranty and when they do you just have whole thing replaced tesla has already was developing a way to have a car pull into a garage and have the battery pack changed out in minutes

      1. One thing to consider: cars by their very nature have LOTS of moving parts.
        The products Apple currently makes have very few.
        Apple would be entering a whole new world of manufacturing and warranty issues IF they tackle making cars.
        A world of hurt, potentially.

    2. We are talking about the automobile industry which basically hasn’t changed over the last half century. Four-wheel vehicles of which 98% of them still run on gasoline. Where poor people in third-world nations are still driving around in classic clunkers shipped from civilized nations in the 50s and 60s.

      Apple will be able to do next to nothing because the oil companies and traditional automobile companies will do their damndest to make sure Apple fails terribly. They’re not going to let some upstart come along and take away their bread and butter. There are simply too many rich people who wish to stay in power trying to stop this world from becoming a utopia for the average citizen.

      1. I think that you’re on to something there – so long as you only view things from an American perspective.

        The US has a very powerful lobbying system with politicians who offer influence in exchange for financial support. The motor car and petroleum industries have very deep pockets and no shortage of supporters, furthermore there are many powerful people who simply hate Apple. It will be ridiculously easy to put obstacles in the way of an Apple car, or to hamper an alternative fuel infrastructure on it’s own turf.

        However, Apple is now a global company and can sell to massive markets elsewhere. There is a lot of interest around the world for cars that do not rely on fossil fuel. If the Americans don’t want Apple cars, there will be no shortage of customers elsewhere and no shortage of governments who would jump at the opportunity to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels.

      2. You sure you’re not Ed Collegian in disguise? Your post sounds vaguely familiar: “We’ve learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone,” he said. “PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.”

      3. Probably 99%+ of all current automobiles run, at least indirectly, off carbon fuels. IOW: Coal, natural gas, ethanol or petrochemicals. This makes the Energy Oligarchy EXTREMELY happy! The Energy Oligarchy has demanded that the efficiency of the automobile remain stagnant in order to force maximal sales of their fuels. It’s all about the $money$.

  3. Ok, for the 20th time? Electrical shortages are projected in the future.

    And dont bother replying with science fiction solutions on that.

    Or the “breakthrough” in batteries or some other nonsense. Batteries are subject to the laws of chemistry and physics just like everything else.
    Possible, not likely, but necessary if electric cars ever get off the ground in areas other than large metro areas in warm climates. Contrary to what those of you in Manhattan, etc. seem to think. other areas of the world actually do exist, I know, who knew? You really are not the center of the world.

    Like the areas of the world that sell you your food, etc.? A battery powered bulldozer, tractor, etc. Really? You people need to learn how the world actually works. Yes, food technically does come from a supermarket, but………think it out, for Gods sake.
    We can do without you, just try to get along without those of us who actually produce what you can’t live without.

    Let the flames begin.

    1. Electricity from flames is most likely to reduce over time as new sources enter.

      Shortages of electricity will be dealt with by government accelerated approval of new sources.

      Modular and sodium and Thorium cycle reactors will likely be built and be inherently safe. Canada itself may choose to locate reactors in their border areas and sell electricity to the US, making a very good profit in the process.

      Nanostructured battery cell materials have been in development and shown progress for higher density storage longer life and safety. My guess is we are nowhere near an optimal rechargeable battery.

      Mega-machines (mostly outside metro areas) will continue to use diesel/gasoline hybrid fuel combustion engine systems which burn cleanly (already being done in development labs.)

      Time moves always forward and change is guaranteed, in sometimes unexpected ways.

      1. “Shortages of electricity will be dealt with by government accelerated approval of new sources.”

        Only if they can control them with supposedly private “partners” like those that the present administration is in love with. Oh, yes that tendency is far stronger than with previous administrations, look at who contributes to them.

        Not saying that the other things you mention could not happen. Politically, it will be unbelievably difficult to convince the members of society who “think” totally based upon emotion that anything nuclear will not be the end of our species.

        Batteries? Maybe something there, but electrons, neutrons, etc can only be packed in a finite amount of space.

        Many people do not realize that the very first round of emissions standards for vehicles in 1967 removed 90% of the emissions. 90% of the financial cost to members of society have come in removing the last 10% of emissions. The Law of Diminishing Returns cannot be violated even though we may pass a political resolution saying its not so. Doesn’t mean they won’t keep passing them because they are politically fashionable, but we will soon pass the point where we can afford that.

        Change is guaranteed. Change with good effects is good, change with bad effects is bad. We shall see.

        1. Check out the TechnologyReview.com article “Old Battery Type Gets an Energy Boost” on BASF’s innovations as an example of better battery technology in the works that is advancing on chemistry safety, cost and storage capacity per kilogram.

          Good change is coming faster than most people realize.

      1. Montana?! Too close to the Yellowstone supervolcano. If it blows, according to a scare story in this month’s SciAm, you’ll be cropless, wearing a containment suit and standing knee deep in ash, and a desperate world will be forced to use toothpicks again.

    2. As time goes forward, we end up with more solutions to energy issues, not less. Large metro areas make up a huge number of people. I’m sure apple would be fine with only those numbers to work with. I’ve had my Nissan Leaf for 2 years here in Missouri, and cold weather simply doesn’t matter. I get 5-10% less distance at -5 degrees (37 degrees below freezing!), but it works just fine. Actually, better than fine. Since my car doesn’t have to be “running” to heat or cool the car, I can leave my climate control at whatever temperature I want as I run in and out of stores running errands. And at work, I don’t have to run over to the window to use my car’s remote start. I just open up the iPhone app and turn on the climate control. So you can’t say warm areas only. And that’s todays technology. Right now. Distance will only get better, recharge times will only get faster. And an electric car is really energy agnostic. The area can switch or supplement the grid with coal, natural gas, nuclear, wind, solar, tidal, or geo thermal, my car doesn’t care.

    3. “Ok, for the 20th time? Electrical shortages are projected in the future.”

      Because you say so? From the rest of your post it’s pretty clear you don’t know much about anything. For example, by what stretch does the rise of electric cars imply electric tractors? Other than a bunch of arm waving, your post doesn’t say anything.

      1. OP: “Let the flames begin.” 🙂

        Battery technology has changed the most in the last 20-30 years, at least as much as any other technology. New fuel cells are under development for a wide range of applications.

        “Like the areas of the world that sell you your food, etc.? A battery powered bulldozer, tractor, etc. Really? You people need to learn how the world actually works. Yes, food technically does come from a supermarket, but………think it out, for Gods sake.”

  4. Just a quick reminder !
    Apple exclusive agreement with LiquidMetal is restricted to the electronic related business. Nothing to do with autoparts or other vehicule related products.
    Which of course doesn’t forbid Apple from work/designing in those areas … !

        1. There’s always trade-offs, and personally, I’ll trust the Engineering Specification sheets from the battery manufacturers before “some guy” claims (regardless of how well intentioned). For example, for the SAFT VL-34P (a battery used in DoD appliations), the minimum operating temperature is -30C (-22F) for discharging … and +5C (40F) for charging.

          From an engineering standpoint, this means having to now also build heaters into your battery pack and of course, the power to run that battery heater has to come from somewhere….

          -hh

    1. Well, let’s do the math and see how this works:

      Tesla P85 has an 85kWh battery pack and goes 265 miles on a charge. Assuming Apple doesn’t dramatically improve the efficiency of electric motors (which are pretty darned efficient these days), to go 400 miles you’d probably need at least 110kWh pack (assuming some mileage can be gained by the lighter/smaller battery pack you’re hoping for).

      To charge a 110kWH battery (or ultra capacitor) in 5 minutes? Let’s see, it would take 500 amps at 220v (assuming 100% charging efficiency) for an hour to charge that pack. To do it in 5 minutes (still assuming 100% charging efficiency) would take 6,000 amps at 220v. And this assumes DC, not AC (so “any 220 plug” doesn’t apply).

      Note that the Tesla super chargers are 300v DC and still need 20 minutes to charge an 85kWH battery to 80% (and an hour to hit 100%).

  5. In a related story, Apple will build manufacturing robots with special nozzles in their butts to spew out liquid metal cars, like New York Post “journalist” fantasies.

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