Report: Apple is revving up to work on a car

Julia Love, San Jose Mercury News

Cupertino, Calif. — Soccer moms and dads may one day be tooling around town in minivans that are markedly smarter — and made by Apple Inc.

Apple has tasked several hundred employees with working on an electric vehicle, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Code-named "Titan," the effort is veiled in the secrecy typical of Apple projects, according to the Journal.

Apple has authorized the creation of a 1,000-person team composed of employees poached from throughout the company, the Journal reported. Working at a private facility a few miles from Apple's One Infinite Loop campus in Cupertino, the team is initially working on a design that is similar to a minivan, according to the newspaper.

On Friday, the Financial Times reported that Apple has been recruiting automotive experts to work in a new lab.

An Apple spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

Buzz around Apple's possible entry into the auto industry has been mounting since minivans topped by an X-shaped apparatus were spotted cruising around the Bay Area earlier this month. At least one of the vehicles is registered to Apple.

Although the blockbuster launch of the iPhone 6 propelled Apple to record profits in its most recent financial quarter, the company must churn out another hit gadget if it wants to sustain growth.

But some analysts remain skeptical that Apple will bring a car of its own to market.

Although Apple extended its iOS software to the car with CarPlay last year, analyst Jan Dawson of Jackdaw Research said much of auto manufacturing is foreign to the company. He finds it unlikely the disciplined firm would veer so far from its strengths.

"The parts of the car that Apple is good at are a tiny fraction of the experience," he said.

Rather, Dawson suspects that Apple plans to deepen its software in the car, perhaps helping users track the performance of their vehicles.

Analyst Tim Bajarin of Creative Strategies sees something similar on the horizon for Apple, predicting that the company will develop software to cover more functions of the car, perhaps adding new features for navigation and safety. But he thinks manufacturing a car is out of the question.

"Apple just is not a car company," he said. "It never will be."

Apple CEO Tim Cook touted last year's release of CarPlay during an interview at a technology conference earlier this week, noting that the company has also released software to help users track their health and manage their homes.

"None of us want to have different platforms in different parts of our lives," Cook said. "I think that is huge for our future."