Apple’s ‘Project Titan’ just sped up

“For a company at the very top of the corporate ladder, some of the most important shifts in its vaunted history still lie ahead for technology giant Apple,” Andrew Tonner writes for The Motley Fool. “Apple’s much discussed automotive effort, dubbed Project Titan, has perhaps captured investors’ imaginations the most since details first surfaced earlier this year. And given the massive potential that Project Titan carries, recent news that Apple has accelerated its production schedule could prove the most significant Apple storyline this year, beyond the debut of the iPhone 6s.”

“According to recent reporting from The Wall Street Journal, Apple has accelerated the timetable for Project Titan, granting it the title of a ‘committed project’ internally,” Tonner writes. “Citing sources at the company, management has reportedly increased the resources dedicated to bringing Project Titan to market, including allocating its leaders the resources necessary to triple the project’s headcount from the roughly 600 currently working on it.”

“If Apple can skirt the low-margin aspects of the automotive business, as it has successfully done with its consumer electronics businesses, there’s an attractive financial opportunity for the company and its shareholders,” Tonner writes. “Consider that the global automotive industry accounts for roughly $2 trillion in annual economic output each year, with North America accounting for $500 billion of those sales.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: There will be something(s) unique about Apple’s “car” that set(s) it apart from the rest of the market in such a way as to command a premium.

Why cars are Apple’s next big market – September 23, 2015
The deeper reason for an Apple Car – September 23, 2015
Volkswagen emissions scandal spotlights need for an Apple Car – September 23, 2015
Morgan Stanley: Apple Car, if true, ‘one of the most important moments in transportation’ – September 22, 2015
Former GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz: Apple Car ‘is going to be a gigantic money pit’ – September 22, 2015
Apple speeds up electric-car efforts, aims for 2019 ‘ship date’ – September 21, 2015
Apple meets California DMV officials to discuss ‘autonomous vehicle’ – September 18, 2015
Documents confirm Apple is building self-driving car, Project Titan further along than many suspect – August 14, 2015
Apple Car development proceeds apace – July 27, 2015
Apple hires veteran Fiat Chrysler auto industry executive – July 20, 2015
What’s up with Carl Icahn’s sudden obsession with the Apple Car? – May 18, 2015
Survey: 77% of hybrid or electric vehicle owners would likely buy an Apple Car – May 13, 2015
Apple’s ‘Project Titan’ could reshape the auto world – February 22, 2015


  1. Hydrogen fuel cell or I’m not interested.

    The dream would be for Apple to solve the problem of the catalytic cracking of water into its constituent parts. A big dream, admittedly, but one that would have titanic implications.


      1. No, we don’t have to wonder, because there are parallel plans to increase energy production from other sources including renewables. The U.S. electrical grid will be fed by an increasingly diverse range of sources in the coming decades. The gradual reduction in coal-fired power plants will be more than offset by other power generation sources and by improvements in overall efficiency.

    1. You should want a non ICE car. That is, no Internal Combustion Engine. I think hydrogen fuel cell requires the same old method of harvesting tiny explosions in a cylinder that drives a piston.

      The big problem then is that you still have to have an engine, gearbox and exhaust hardware.

      I want these three main components GONE. Mainly because the biggest reason to buy one of these cars is to do away with servicing all those parts. No more spark plugs, belts, timing chains, oil filters, air filters, cooling radiators, pump, gaskets, o2 sensors, timing modules and on and on. I want none of that and therefore I want a simple electric motor and a simple electric cell.

      So far I am overjoyed to be an owner of a Tesla MS. Simple Electric motor plus a battery gives me a muscle car beating performance with the convenience of $12 per 430 kilometres. With billions of electric power plugs and Tesla’s own superchargers, there is no range anxiety. Been on three 3000 kilometre trips with no hassle whatsoever.

      So, please, no H fuel cells…….unless,of course,the H fuel cell directly generates electric power to drive a pure electric car.

      Doing away with all that

      1. Hydrogen fuel cell is basically a form of battery. It is an electrochemical device than stores energy as hydrogen. Think of it as a fast recharging Tesla and you have the correct picture.

      2. Hydrogen can be used directly in a type of combustion engine, but a “hydrogen fuel cell” produces electricity (chemically) to power a motor. The fuel cell basically replaces the battery as the source of electricity. There is no “combustion.” If the application becomes more practical, it is cleaner than battery power, because there are no batteries with toxic materials that wear out.

    1. And it may be available very cheap… …except the costs of all the country fines and lawsuits may be liabilities costing more than the stock value prior to the scandal breaking….

  2. Mobile electronics are the future — electronics that themselves are mobile.

    The creative work Apple is doing with Titan goes far beyond “cars”. Mobile electronics will stock grocery store shelves, deliver packages to your home, mow your lawn, and perhaps eventually drive the school bus. Because why not?

    Mobile electronics that move room to room through your home, or the hospital, or the senior living facility are the next generation beyond that.

    Electronics have gone mobile already: they’re riding us. Soon we’ll be riding them.

    1. With all of that happening as you apparently want it to, the people who currently have those jobs won’t have any, so who is going to buy the products so wonderfully made and delivered by robots.

      Beware of what you ask for.

  3. The one thing that will bring revolution to the automobile industry is replacement of the internal combustion engine with something better. Methinks the only engine that could better the efficiency of the internal combustion engine would be a form of fuel cell driving electric motors, supplemented by batteries to store the kinetic energy returned by the motors while braking. It would require major breakthrough in fuel cell technology and the kind of fuel needed to drive it.

  4. Most people who argue against this effort use the margins as their argument. They argue that Apple’s profit margins of 30% would be impossible to achieve in an industry where the average is 5-8%.

    The biggest profit eater in the auto industry is the transportation cost. A standard cargo container can fit hundreds of millions’ worth of iPhones, or a single $60,000 car. This is the only reason why making cars in America may still be more worthwhile than making them in China and having them shipped over; even though it involves a high amount of manual labour (where American workers are 20 times more expensive than Chinese), by the time car travels across oceans, the saved money is spent on shipping.

    1. Good point. You may have observed that all of the major auto manufacturers have established assembly plants in the US. There are very few models of Honda, Toyotas, BMWs or Mercedes that are actually manufactured offshore.

      The other thing is that cars are bulky and heavy to ship. Most electronics don’t arrive from China by ship. They come by 747. You can put a lot of iPhones on a 747 (cargo capacity 25,000 cu ft volume, 105,000 lbs weight).

    2. Also, if Apple uses the direct sale model like Tesla, they’re already going to capture the 25% or so slice of the margin that dealerships cost most manufacturers. I don’t think Apples margins are at risk in any way.

    1. Well, I think you’ve got us all there. Anything revolutionary Apple comes up with will be deemed to be “obvious and self evident” by the competition, the courts and, the paid shill analysts. So copying will become widespread with nothing more than a slap on the wrist.

      But you know what? It doesn’t matter. Apple will have changes the industry landscape once again and we consumers will all benefit.

  5. If half of the resources spent during last four decades on improving fuel efficiency of internal combustion engines had been spent on development of more efficient electrical energy storage (= batteries), we would have abandoned ICE long ago, and our electricity storage medium would have specific energy not too far from fossil fuels of today. Moreover, we wouldn’t be giving special treatment to rich sheiks who don’t allow their women to drive, vote, work or even move around…

    1. If half of the resources devoted to battery powered cars had been devoted to increasing the fuel efficiency of ICE cars (liquid fuel having the benefit of being the most efficient at delivering the most heat energy per unit stored, in other words the packaging of the most BTU’s per stored unit), we would be ahead in terms of providing transportation and delivery at the least cost to the people who need it. Oh wait, WE ARE!

      1. Not quite. Most estimate project depletion of known liquid fossil fuel reserves by 2050. While we may have incrementally improved energy efficiency of ICEs (thus requiring a bit less fuel for the same amount of energy produced), those ICEs are still inefficient, outputting no more than 40% of energy contained in their fuel into usable mechanical energy (the rest being dissipated mostly as heat).

        Most of us will still be alive to witness the exhaustion of crude oil. I am anxious to hear how do you plan to fuel your SUV to drive to Walmart on the weekend when this happens.

          1. Exactly how is this an ‘everyone else is the problem’ attitude?

            We are enslaved by the oil industry of the world, which had successfully prevented any meaningful research into alternative energy sources. If only the billions of dollars that went into lobbying against alternative energy actually went into the alternative energy research (or even into any other cause), we would likely all be driving electric vehicles today.

            The amount of effort and resources the oil industry had spent in order to make sure theirs is the primary source of energy for the world is insane. The future of the world’s economy is very bleak because of this.

            1. If someone actually built an electric vehicle that didn’t require power plants for electricity, would work in the wintertime, and a truck that could deliver our food and everything else we need to buy, and a tractor that could plow a field without a recharge every two hours and was of a reasonable cost, there would be no way to prevent somebody from building it and marketing it. Ridiculous.

            2. GM was forced by the government of California to build an electric vehicle in the early 90s. When California legislature changed party hands and the law was repealed, GM immediately ceased production and recalled all EV vehicles. Not only did they not let anyone buy the car (and most owners wanted to keep their cars); they carefully destroyed every single one of them, making sure there is no EV car left behind.

              Auto makers spent obscene amounts of money to sabotage any and all efforts to develop and produce electric vehicles. They are still doing it, while putting a ‘green face’ (offering token electric vehicles).

          1. I don’t agree with everything you said up above. Oil does contain a high density of joules, which is why it has been the dominant form of power used in transportation. But ICEs have been refined to a high degree over the years while large scale battery technology has not. I view this as an opportunity for those interested in electric vehicles because of the real potential to upset the current auto and energy industry business models.

            But you’re right about the supposed coming depletion of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels aren’t going away any time soon as we’ll continue to find new reserves for many decades to come.

            The great thing about all this is that electric vehicles are going to provide new incentives for ICE makers to innovate in ways they have not in decades. So whether your a fan in ICEs or electric motors, it’s going to be exciting times ahead!

          2. The real issue is not fossil fuel depletion. The real issue is that combusting 1 pound of carbon atoms produces 3.67 pounds of CO2. There are about 5.5 pounds of carbon in 1 gallon of gas, so burning 1 gallon of gas produces 20 pounds of carbon dioxide.

            Given the low concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere to begin with (about 280 parts-per-million), it means humans have just increased the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere by about one-third, to nearly 400 parts-per-million. CO2 is non-toxic, invisible, and odorless. But CO2 is really good at trapping heat in the atmosphere, which has caused serious global warming. (Warmer air holds more water vapor, itself a greenhouse gas, which exacerbates the problem.) In addition, about ⅓ of all atmospheric CO2 is absorbed by the oceans, causing acidification.

            Planetary warming and oceanic acidification caused by excess CO2 production attributed to burning carbon fuels — the carbon for which has been sequestered for many millions of years, but humans have been releasing into the atmosphere at an increasing rate starting about 150 years ago — is the real problem with carbon fuel.


      2. Keep drinking the koolaid. Ever wonder where the heat Energy in your engine comes from? We can’t release the carbon from liquid fuel without a lot of explosive waste. We can’t harness it so we need complicated cooling systems and oiling mechanisms to keep the engine from seizing. Electric engines are far far simpler. Lower maintenance and will last longer. Way longer.

        Apple and Tesla would be wise to lease these vehicles put for a low monthly. As they require far less maintenance they will last longer.

          1. Of the nineteen (19) different plug-in EVs for sale in the US in 2015-2016:
            — 5 sell for less than $30,000
            — 6 sell for between $30,000 and $35,170
            — 8 sell for over $35,170, including over $100,000


            This means nearly 60% of all EV models sold in the US cost less than $35,170.

            Since the first 100% EV was marketed in the US in 2010, it seems things are moving quickly. The above numbers are for pure EVs only; the figures do not include any of the (many) hybrid gas/electric cars on the market, and plug-in hybrids.

      3. Agree, Predrag. The fuel-efficiency of traditional ICEs are pretty much tapped out. The only way companies are able to appreciably increase fuel-efficiency is by adding a hybrid-electric component running in concert with a small, efficient ICE. Like the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight, which achieve about 50 mpg. (The 2016 Prius should get about 20% better fuel efficiency, too.)

        Most of the technology in ICE cars over the past 40 years or so has gone to increasing acceleration rather than fuel efficiency. Today’s typical mid-sized sedan can outperform muscle cars of the 60s and 70s era. Detroit has only sought to increase car fuel efficiency when forced to. Remember how Detroit cried they could not make small or efficient cars back in the 1973 and 1979 Middle East oil embargoes? Or that “Americans would not buy small, efficient cars”? Their endless foot-dragging on the critical issue of fuel-efficiency is why I don’t think Detroit can innovate our way out of this mess. It will be other companies, like Toyota, Tesla, or Apple that show the way.

        kentkd34. Agree: liquid fuels are a dense store of energy — but their drawback is that they are mostly carbon, which produces CO2 equal to 3.67 times its weight when combusted (when each carbon atom in the fuel combines with 2 oxygen atoms obtained from the air). A prodigious amount of CO2 is produced when carbon fuel is burned, which is why we are “cooking the planet”. The faster we reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, and ultimately transition to renewables, the better. Right now EVs look to achieve MPG (equivalents) up to 100 mpg, so they reduce carbon consumption. Additionally, an increasing amount of electricity around the country is produced from renewable sources. Again, EVs and hybrid gas/electric EVs are a move in the right direction.

  6. My guess:

    Each car will have the ability to exchange information, at the driver’s option, with the pool of Apple cars and with Apple’s map database. This will enhance not only traffic awareness but also navigation and driving, because on average cars travel precisely down the center of the lane. Significant and persistent deviations from that average, together with on-board sensor data relayed from cars ahead, will alert drivers to changing traffic patterns long before they arrive at the cause, such as an accident or detour.

    Commercial building occupants will be able to use stationary devices to transmit information to nearby Apple Cars. This will help keep place names current in Apple Maps and make available a highly localized and personalized selection of web pages through the on-board touch display.

  7. Autonomous clean vehicles – of whatever design and fuel source – offering point to point transportation – an Uber without drivers – in various capacity factors have the potential to replace not only most personally owned vehicles but much of mass transit, especially in low density areas.

    The energy/material/resource savings in cutting the production and maintenance of the entire world vehicle fleet by, say, 2/3 alone would be truly huge – and only increase over time as an annual savings.

    (Not that this would please the existing base of car, bus and other manufacturers much and it would be highly disruptive – although the transition will likely take decades to overtake the current ways of moving people and goods around.)

    Not having to return to “home” stations, rather to the next closest pick up point will be another major energy saver.

    And not having to insure, repair, maintain, clean one’s own vehicles will also have big benefits to individuals.

    And since we know Apple vehicles will not be cheap, one has to wonder how far their vision extends into considering this possible fork into the future of transportation….

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