Rumors about Apple’s dive into EV market solidify

Reports are flying that Apple is looking to put an electric car on the market by 2020.

Apple StoreRumors started swirling earlier this month when Business Insider reported that whatever Apple was planning would “give Tesla a run for its money.”

It looks like profit is not the only thing Apple is looking to take from Tesla-- Bloomberg reports that Apple has been poaching Tesla employees, along with executives from Mercedes-Benz’ R&D unit, for a team of about 200 working under Steve Zadesky, who led the development of the iPhone.

Additionally, a lawsuit from battery manufacturer A123 Systems LLC alleges that Apple has hired a number of their engineers, including former Ford engineer Mujeeb Ijaz, in a move that violates A123’s non-disclosure contracts. The company says Apple has not been able to guarantee that their new hires would not be sharing A123 proprietary technology.

Apple’s five year time frame is incredibly tight, but news reports say the technology giant has been secretly working on the project for years. Developing a car is a lengthy process and established companies generally put five to seven years into a new model. There’s also the issue of finding a manufacturer, though speculation points to overseas contractors in China or Magna Steyr in Austria.

Initial reports say Apple’s car will be a fully electric minivan, likely with a highly integrated infotainment system based off of the CarPlay system that was unveiled last year.  Perhaps its Chrysler, which has announced plans to introduce a new plug-in minivan next year, who will get a run for its money.

If--or when?--Apple jumps into the EV market, it will likely make a huge impact, but for now, everything is tightly under wraps, with Apple’s team working in a “top-secret” lab outside of the company’s main campus. Will any Michigan car executives make the move to Silicon Valley? We’ll have to stay tuned.