Apple is running a secretive car development laboratory in the middle of Berlin, insiders claim, and it will sell the electric vehicles to customers through a rental scheme before the end of this decade.
Speaking to German news site Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Faz), "informed sources" say a small team of Apple employees spread across hardware, software and sales are using the lab as an incubator for ideas about the future of personal transport.
A team of 15-20 men and women, who are all "top-class [employees] from the German automotive industry", are working at the lab, according to Faz's sources. They are all relatively young, the report continues, and are described as "progressive thinkers" who are given the freedom to think outside of the box and beyond how the traditional car industry has worked until now.
Known internally as Project Titan, Apple is believed to have been working on a car since at least 2014 and, according to numerous reports from the Wall Street Journal and the Guardian, has a team of over 1,000 employees working on it. Apple is reported to be interested in working with BMW and its i3 electric car, in which company boss Tim Cook has shown a personal interest.
The Faz report continues to say Apple is targeting a 2019 or 2020 release date and the iCar, as it has been dubbed, will be available through a rental scheme similar to BMW Drive-Now. Customers would pay a fee to drive the car for short periods of time – a few hours or a long weekend, for example – instead of buying it from a store or dealership. The car will be electric, Faz claims, but will not have autonomous features at, as these technologies are still in development. They will come at a later date, the report claims.
Finally, it is claimed that Austrian manufacturing company Magna, which already produces the Mini range, will build the Apple car. This would likely be joined by a production facility in the US, too.