Apple products are famously designed in California and assembled in China. But the tech giant could break from that tradition for the Apple Car, the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine reports. The publication said Apple is designing some aspects of its car in Berlin and that manufacturing could take place in Austria if Apple contracts Magna, a company that has produced vehicles for Mini and BMW.
The paper noted there's a team of 15 to 20 people working on the engineering, hardware, software and future sales of the Apple Car in Berlin. This team hails from the German automotive industry, according to the report.
The Apple Car, aka the iCar or Titan, is expected to be a smaller electric car, with a ship date of 2019 or 2020, and it will start out as a ride-sharing or rental program before it is offered for sale to users with a more traditional dealership model. The Apple Car may not be self-driving or partially automated when it hits the market, but that functionality could be added later.
Magna, an Austrian manufacturing firm that has produced the Mini Countryman and BMW X3, may have been contacted by Apple to manufacture the car. SixtyEight Research, a firm that may have been set up by Apple to handle the car's development, recently attended a conference along with Magna, 9to5 Mac reported. The manufacturing deal could be complicated by Samsung's ownership of Magna's battery unit.
The Wall Street Journal reported last fall that 600 employees were at work on Apple's car project dubbed "Project Titan" and that the team was authorized to triple in size.
Other aspects of the Apple Car, including SixtyEight Research's headquarters, remain close to Apple in Sunnyvale, California. It has been reported that Apple has been leasing buildings there and filed plans with the city for automotive facilities like a lube bay. These buildings, to go along with the Project Titan naming convention, are being given code names from Greek mythology like "Zeus," "Rhea" and "Medusa."