Tesla CEO Elon Musk claims that Apple is indeed working on an electric car, saying in an interview: “It’s pretty hard to hide something if you hire over a thousand engineers to do it.” However, as his company starts to face more competition, he says he’s not worried and that he believes competition will ultimately help the industry.
Musk calls Apple’s rumored efforts to develop its own electric vehicle “an open secret,” and certainly, the technology giant doesn’t seem to be trying very hard to cover its tracks. In the past few months, it has already hired experts like Doug Betts and Johann Jungwirth (former head of Mercedes-Benz’s Silicon Valley R&D unit), while also reportedly bringing on board over a thousand people to work on code-named “Project Titan.”
It’s said that Apple hopes to have its electric vehicle on the road by 2019.
In an interview with the BBC, Musk said he hopes that Apple’s involvement will encourage more participation in the challenge of building electric vehicles, something he said is “quite hard to do.”
And while Tesla is already capitalizing on the market, it’s now focusing on making a vehicle that most people can afford — the Model 3 — which Musk said will begin production at the end of next year. “The Model 3…is the third part of our strategy, which is to produce a high-volume, low-cost car,” he explained. “We expect to be in production on that at the end of next year. In order to have a substantial effect on transportation, we need to have cars be more affordable…We need to make a car that most people can afford in order to have a substantial impact.”
However, taking on the mainstream consumer market won’t be easy, as other car companies have also announced that they’re building electric vehicles for the average driver. At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Chevy, Volkswagen, Mercedes, Toyota, and Audi all announced their concepts of an electric car to rival Tesla’s. And even China-backed Faraday Futures threw its hat in the ring.
“I think all transport, with the exception of rockets, will go full electric,” Musk stated when asked about the role of Tesla. “I see the value of Tesla as an accelerant, a catalyst, in that transition. I think that Tesla may be, when one looks back on it from a historical perspective, an accelerate in that transition by a decade, maybe more.”