Rumor: Apple sets up shop in Berlin, picks Magna to build the electric 'iCar'

April 20, 2016

The rumors began to circulate in February 2015: Apple is building an electric car.

Since then, numerous signs have suggested that the rumor is true, and Apple has done nothing to disabuse anyone of the idea.

Until recently, all indications were that the mysterious car would be developed in California, but a new report says that Apple has set up a shop in Germany, too.

The news comes via the media outlet Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, which cites a number of "informed sources" (according to Google Translate, anyway). The site claims that Apple has recruited 15 to 20 men and women from the German auto industry who are familiar not only with engineering and sales, but also with software and hardware.

Those men and women are described as progressive thinkers--younger individuals open to new ways of doing business that might be anathema to the conservative heads of major car companies. The group is allegedly working at a German outpost of Apple's not-so-quietly-kept "Project Titan", located in the center of Berlin.

Their task, however, doesn't appear to involve building the car itself, or even testing it. Rather, the group's goals include evaluating the German market in terms of regulatory practices, distribution partners, and competitors in the field of electric and autonomous cars.

While Apple's focus on Germany rather than, say, other countries in Europe or Asia seems interesting, two items in the anonymously sourced story are especially noteworthy:

  • Apple has picked the supplier Magna to build the so-called iCar. Magna hasn't commented on the rumor.

Those tidbits, combined with news that Apple has poached yet another Tesla employee--this time, former vice president of vehicle engineering Chris Porritt--make it abundantly clear that Apple is working on something auto-related, and it's likely much, much bigger than CarPlay

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