Apple CarPlay
CarPlay could be getting some major updates, as Apple explores the automotive industryApple

Apple Inc is is fast forwarding its efforts to build an electric car and has designated it internally as a "committed project" with a target shipping date for 2019.

The Wall Street Journal, in quoting people familiar with the matter, said that leaders of the electric car project code named Titan, have been given the go ahead to triple its 600-person team.

The company has spent more than a year looking into the feasibility of an Apple-branded car, the newspaper said, adding that meetings were held with two groups of government officials in California.

It is believed that Apple's senior legal counsel, Mike Maletic met with California Department of Motor Vehicles' deputy director Bernard Soriano and the department's chief of strategic planning, Stephanie Dougherty, to discuss autonomous vehicle regulation issues, according to The Guardian.

For Apple, a 'ship date' does not necessarily mean that that is the date that customers receive a new product. In the Apple world, it also refers to the date that engineers sign off on the product's main features, the journal highlights.

It is understood that the electric car is unlikely to be a fully autonomous electric car, the newspaper said, despite the fact that the company had hired experts in driverless cars technology.

The journal said Apple's firm commitment in developing an electric car is an indication that the mobile phone and tablet company plans to venture into the automotive industry by tapping into its expertise developed in hardware-software integration, sensors and batteries, among others, to introduce in the next generation of vehicles.

An Apple spokesman declined to comment on the report. It said the 2019 target was ambitious as "building a car is a complex endeavour, even more so for a company without any experience." Once Apple completes its designs and prototypes, a vehicle would still need to undergo a litany of tests before it could clear regulatory hurdles.

Reuters said that Apple has been consistently hiring car experts as part of its effort to build a team in automated driving. It noted that the company took on Megan McClain, a former Volkswagen AG engineer with expertise in automated driving and Vinay Palakkode, a graduate researcher at Carnegie Mellon University, a hub of automated driving research. Apple has also hired former Ford designer Marc Newson.