Apple has set an ambitious ship date for its electric car: The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple is revving things up to deliver a car by 2019, and has the green light to triple its 600-person team. Though Apple is conducting research on fully autonomous vehicles, its first release will be an electric car–not a self-driving car, as previously rumored.
The significance of the 2019 ship date, which the WSJ obtained from sources “familiar with the matter,” is unclear at the moment. It could refer to either a commercial launch for customers or an internal goal for engineers.
As an outsider to the auto industry, Apple faces a number of challenges. The famously secretive company hasn’t made many details available as to how it plans to manufacture the cars, or who it hopes to partner with. Another complication is how the cars would be sold; Apple is a centralized company whose preferred method of distribution is through direct sales and the Apple Store. In the U.S., however, a network of private auto dealerships has cropped up over the past century, stirring up legal issues for automakers who preferred direct sales.
Elon Musk’s electric car company Tesla has aggressively pushed back against the private dealership system, with varying degrees of success. Apple could potentially align itself with Tesla–now a competitor–or opt to to sell its cars through the conventional route and relinquish some control over its brand and pricing.
[via Wall Street Journal]