800px-Apple_StoreApple has hundreds of employees secretly working on an all-electric automobile project, codenamed ‘Titan’, according to a report released Friday from the Wall Street Journal. The vehicle which is being created is said to resemble a minivan, the Journal is citing people familiar with the company’s plans. The Financial Times reported hours earlier that according to its unnamed sources a ‘top-secret’ research lab was put together in 2014.

Apple CEO Tim Cook approved the project almost a year ago and put product design Vice President Steve Zadesky in charge. A former Ford engineer, Mr Zadeski has been a long time Apple employee who helped lead the teams that created the iPod and later the iPhone. Zadeski is said to have a team of 1,000 people working on the project. Titan has its own development facility which is located a few miles from Apple’s corporate headquarters in Cupertino. The team is reportedly researching different types of ‘robotics, metals and materials consistent with automobile manufacturing’.

Apple chief designer Jonathan Ive is believed to have been personally recruiting automotive executives in recent months. In September, Apple hired Johann Jungwirth who had been President and CEO of Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America. Last year Apple hired Marc Newson, a famous industrial designer who has created a concept car for Ford. Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed earlier that Apple has tried to recruit engineers from the electric car maker, offering them $250,000 bonuses and 60 per cent pay raises.

It seems the size of the project is significant. In addition to the research lab and the senior people involved, Apple executives have already begun to meet with potential contract manufacturers for high-end cars including Canadian Magna Steyr.

Observers say ‘Titan’ is likely years away from production as any car would take several years to complete and obtain safety certifications. However, a variety of new technologies developed for the project, advanced batteries or in-car electronics, could be used for future generations of devices, including iPhones, the publication of the Street Journal says. A few years ago, Tesla had no more experience manufacturing world-class cars than Apple currently does; and let’s not forget Apple is starting with more than $180 billion in the bank.

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