I remain skeptical, but The Guardian reports that Apple is building a self-driving car and is scouting for secure locations in the San Francisco Bay area to test it.
The article says that, in May, engineers from Apple’s secretive Special Project group met with officials from GoMentum Station, a 2,100-acre former naval base near San Francisco that is being turned into a high-security testing ground for autonomous vehicles. GoMentum Station in Concord, California is where the Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) leads and facilitates a collaborative partnership among communications suppliers, technology companies, researchers and academia; public agencies and other partners.
These entities converge in research development, testing validation and commercialization of Connected Vehicle (CV) applications and Autonomous Vehicles (AV) technologies to define the next generation of transportation network infrastructure, according to the GoMentum website. The site adds that the station, featuring 20 miles of paved roadway, "is the largest secure test facility in the world and will become the center of CV/AV research."
Despite my skepticism, the Wall Street Journal says Apple’s car project is code-named “Titan.” The article says Steve Zadesky, Apple’s vice president of iPhone/iPod Design has been put in charge of the project, and that he’s assembling a 1,000 member team.
Bloomberg Business claims that Apple, “which has been working secretly on a car, is pushing its team to begin production of an electric vehicle as early as 2020.” 9to5Mac has compiled a list of automotive experts hired by Apple and says “it’s clear Apple’s ambitions go well beyond just its iOS-based CarPlay in-dash system.” BGR notes any “Applemobile” will likely be an electric car of some kind, especially given Apple CEO Tim Cook’s dedication to expanding the use of greener energy.
Still, I'm not the only skeptic. In June, The Register said that Apple said that though Apple wants to compete directly with Google in the car space, “whether the mystery project is a full Apple-branded car or just an Apple OS built into a car from another automaker remains to be seen.” USA Today says that we shouldn’t expect a full-fledged car, but perhaps a dashboard or some other sort of embedded model, and I tend to agree).
What's more, according to a Nielsen and SBD survey of 14,000 recent car buyers, there’s not much interest in an Apple Car. Respondents who owned an iPhone were asked how likely they’d be to buy an Apple car, and the most popular response (47%) was “not likely at all.” Twenty percent said they were “somewhat likely,” 12% were “likely,” 10% were “very likely,” and 11% were “extremely likely.”