Apple sued in India over iPhone trademark Reuters

Just a day after announcing prices and a release date for the Watch, Apple investors are already on the hunt for the next big thing - buying electric car company Tesla.

During the iPhone-maker's annual shareholders meeting on 10 March, investors peppered CEO Tim Cook with questions focused on the idea of Apple buying the electric car manufacturer, headed by Elon Musk.

After batting the topic away several times, Cook said: "We don't really have a relationship with them. I'd love Tesla to pick up CarPlay. We now have every major auto brand committing to use CarPlay, maybe Tesla would want to do that."

Aware his answer mostly ignored the question, Cook added: "Was that a good way to avoid the question?"

Apple's enormous $178bn (£118bn; €168bn) cash pile means it could theoretically buy Tesla seven times over, based on the car-maker's current market cap of $24bn.

Minutes later, another investor said he owns a Tesla Model S which "blows his mind" every time he sees it, and that it is the most exciting product since the original Apple Mac in 1984. The unnamed man added: "Am I insane to think something might happen here?" reports The Verge.

With a smile, Cook once again deflected the question: "Let me think if there's another way for me to not answer this question. We're very focused on CarPlay."

Apple's answer to a market clogged up with dated and incompatible systems, CarPlay is an initiative to unify the in-car entertainment and navigation experience, driven by the driver's connected iPhone.

No smoke without fire

But there is no smoke without fire, and in this case investors have become excited over smoke billowing from numerous reports all claiming Apple is developing a car of its own.

Known internally at Apple as Titan, the project is based a few miles away from the company's global headquarters in Cupertino, California. A lab acting as home for Titan was set up in the third quarter of 2014, shortly after the new iPhone 6 and Apple Watch were announced, the Financial Times reports.

A source of the newspaper "who has worked closely with Apple for many years" said: "Three months ago I would have said it was CarPlay. Today I think it's a car."

Aside from Silicon Valley neighbours Tesla, the area isn't known as a hotbed for automotive companies - but that doesn't seem to bother Apple, as an insider told Reuters: "They don't appear to want a lot of help from car makers."

Bryan Chaffin, co-founder of Apple news site The Mac Observer, said he has recently learnt that "a lot of people at the top in Silicon Valley consider it a given that Apple is working on a car."

Chaffin adds that, when asking one source for a percentage chance that Apple is "working on an actual car, rather than some kind of car-related technology," he was told "80%".