It looks like Apple is working on an electric, possibly autonomous automobile. Numerous publications have reported that Apple CEO Tim Cook started the project about a year ago, which followed a M&A meeting with Tesla’s Elon Musk in the Spring of 2013.

We must remember that Apple has many R&D projects and “says no a thousand times for every yes” and of course even if the car project does happen, any type of product is many years off (barring any acquisition). Then there is the current mess that is CarPlay

But the idea does make some sense on a macro level. Tim Cook’s Apple is a Green company and takes on the world’s problems including Global Warming. Electric cars, when coupled with clean energy, cut Co2 emissions.

“We know at Apple that climate change is real… our view is the time for talk is past and the time for action is now” – Tim Cook on the recent opening of Apple’s monster solar project

Execs including Eddy Cue (Ferrari’s Board), Phil Schiller (who testified in the Samsung trial that Apple considered making a car before the iPhone) and Jony “Aston/Bentley” Ive (pictured above, shotgun) are known for their interest in cars.

Perhaps the most compelling argument is that Apple, which sits on $200B cash mountain and looks for areas ripe for disruption, can make a very short list of industries bigger than the consumer electronics industry that it now dominates.

If you consider household capital expenditures, cars are second only to housing. The auto industry is a trillion dollar a year industry. That’s a big pie, even if Apple hopes to just take a small piece. Tesla thinks it can hit Apple’s current valuation in a decade, just by selling electric cars and batteries.

For the record, I’d heard from people outside of Apple that they were hiring people that could only be working on electric cars. Without solid proof and with the knowledge that they’d hired auto folks like Doug Field to actually work on Macintosh hardware development in the past, we had nothing to go on.

The Industry

As an electric car enthusiast who drives two different electric cars and writes about the clean energy/electric car industry, I couldn’t be happier about the prospect of Apple joining the electric car industry. I am a big Tesla fan but I think an Apple car would be great for the whole electric vehicle ecosystem. Even the rumor of Apple’s electric vehicle entry has cast a bright light on the technology.

Every major carmaker has some sort of electric car initiative and the prospect of Apple taking over their industry will only spur investment in the field. Nissan’s Leaf which debuted with ads on iAd, now is the only mainstream fully electric car, but many more are just around the corner.

Apple has the resources to expand vehicle charging infrastructure, battery technology and even influence government regulations. Electric and autonomous transportation is clearly the future and Apple’s entry would be good for everyone outside of the legacy car and oil industry.

What do you think?

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