Apple has kept mum all through 2015 over rumors about it building an electric vehicle. But in a recent interview, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that the iPhone maker is serious about getting into the car business.
Speaking with the BBC’s Rory Cellan-Jones, Musk said:
I think companies like Apple will probably make an electric car. It seems like the obvious thing to do. It’s pretty hard to hide something if you hire over a thousand engineers to do it.
When asked by Cellan-Jones if he though Apple was serious about the project, Musk replied, “Yeah, I do. It’s an open secret.”
However, he said that he welcomed participation in the electric vehicle industry and didn’t see the company’s new venture as a threat.
“Tesla will still aspire to make the most compelling electric vehicles, and that would be our goal, while at the same helping other companies to make electric cars as well.”
Musk also said that, “In the long term, nobody will buy a car unless it is autonomous. You will only drive if you want to drive.”
While Musk’s vision for electric and autonomous cars is easy to get behind, it’s hard to predict if his company will be able to attain and hold the top spot in the auto industry of the future.
Major car makers like BMW and Audi are gearing up to enter the self-driving vehicle market, while startups like Faraday Future have begun showing off their capabilities in developing high-performance electric cars.
Tech giants Google and Baidu are also racing to deliver autonomous vehicle technology. And last December, hacker George Hotz managed to develop an aftermarket self-driving system that he showed off in a 2016 Acura, all within a month.
Meanwhile, Tesla is still running up losses. The company hopes to begin production of its Model 3, a more affordable vehicle than its current offerings, by the end of 2017. It’ll be interesting to see if that helps Tesla turn the tide. But with so much competition to go up against, the next couple of years will certainly not be easy for the company.