SAN FRANCISCO -- Silicon Valley technology giant Apple Inc. has set a goal of finalizing an electric car in 2019, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
Apple has internally designated an electric car as a “committed project,” the newspaper reported, citing people familiar with the matter. Apple reportedly plans to triple the size of the project’s 600-person team.
The secretive Apple, which has hired dozens of experts on electric cars and autonomous driving from companies such as Mercedes-Benz and Tesla Motors Inc., has not confirmed that it is working on a vehicle prototype.
During a U.S. television appearance last week on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” Apple CEO Tim Cook declined to comment on the matter.
“We look at a number of things along the way,” Cook said in response to a question from Colbert, “and we decide to really put our energies into a few of those.”
The Journal article noted that the car's ship date doesn't mean customers would receive it at that time. It also could mean that's when engineers would sign off on the car's main features, the newspaper said.
Sources told Reuters in August that Apple was developing a car and studying self-driving technology, but it was unclear if the iPhone maker was designing a vehicle that could drive itself.
Apple was not immediately available for comment.
The company doesn't currently plan to make its first electric vehicle fully autonomous, the newspaper said.
Apple has been consistently hiring car experts as part of its effort to build a team in automated driving.
Apple has hired this year Megan McClain, a former Volkswagen AG engineer with expertise in automated driving, and Vinay Palakkode, a graduate researcher at Carnegie Mellon University, a hub of automated driving research.
Apple also hired Jamie Carlson, a senior engineer from Tesla, according to a LinkedIn posting.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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