The tech world is abuzz this week about Apple and its secret project “Titan,” which could lead to an i-branded electric car. It started as a rumor, but the news that Apple is working on an electric car is gaining traction in light of a new lawsuit filed yesterday against the iPhone giant claiming it poached employees from A123 Systems – a company that develops advanced electric car batteries. Apple still has yet to comment on the suit, or on the electric car rumors in general, but this lawsuit is enough to convince many that Titan is real.
Massachusetts-based firm A123 Systems claims that five key employees were recruited by Apple in violation of a “non-compete” clause in the employees’ contracts. Non-compete allegations are often difficult to prove, because the employees in question must have specific proprietary knowledge related to a company’s product development, and there must be clear evidence that the acquiring company was not only aware of that knowledge, but intentionally sought to hire those employees in order to benefit from those trade secrets.
Whether A123, a subsidiary of Chinese car parts company Wanxiang Group, can win in court against the $700 billion tech megalord remains to be seen. However, the mere filing of a suit like this is enough to raise eyebrows about Apple’s interest in electric vehicles.
Even major news outlets like Bloomberg and the New York Times are hot on Apple’s trail, reporting that the market could see an iCar as soon as 2020, according to “people with knowledge of the matter.” Apple reportedly has around 200 people working on the secret “Titan” project, and many of them came from companies that develop car components or electric cars.
If Apple really is working on an electric car, and there are smart folks formerly of Tesla and A123 on the team, the resulting iCar (or whatever it will be dubbed) will likely be a good competitor against Tesla and General Motors, both of which are targeting a 2017 release of electric vehicles that can travel more than 200 miles on a single charge and will be priced under $40,000.